Tennessee Volunteers vs. Auburn Tigers Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 28th 2024

No. 4 Tennessee will vie for its fifth victory in a row when it tips off against No. 11 Auburn in a Southeastern Conference showdown on Wednesday evening in Knoxville, Tenn.

Tennessee (21-6, 11-3) has climbed to its highest ranking this season after winning 10 of its past 12 games. It is coming off a dominant 86-51 victory at home against Texas A&M on Saturday.

Volunteers coach Rick Barnes will turn his attention to Auburn after earning his 800th career win. He joined Adolph Rupp and John Calipari as the only coaches to reach 800 victories while serving as an active coach in the SEC.

“I’m really thankful to the players,” Barnes said. “I know what grind they put into it every day, (as do) our coaches and people in our program. I’ve just been blessed with having a chance to be around so many wonderful people.”

Next comes a staunch challenge against Auburn (21-6, 10-4), which remains in contention for a regular-season conference title. The Tigers have won five of their past seven games, including 97-76 over Georgia on Saturday.

Auburn won despite the absence of starting forward Jaylin Williams, who was sidelined because of a knee injury. Williams’ status is uncertain for Wednesday against Tennessee.

In 26 games this season, Williams is averaging 13.0 points and 4.7 rebounds. He is shooting 58.1 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from beyond the arc.

If Auburn must play without Williams, it could look to Chad Baker-Mazara to continue to take on a more prominent role in the offense. Baker-Mazara scored a season-high 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting against Georgia, and he added five rebounds and four assists.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl emphasized the importance of Baker-Mazara’s contributions.

“He was the best player on the floor tonight,” Pearl said. “(We) trust him with the ball in his hands, as a playmaker, obviously to make shots. He gets fouls, makes free throws. He shot seven of the 16 free throws we had (against Georgia). Made them all.”

Tennessee is led by Dalton Knecht, who is averaging 20.1 points a game to go with 5.0 rebounds. Jonas Aidoo (12.0 ppg) and Zakai Zeigler (10.9) also are averaging double-digit point totals, and Josiah-Jordan James is chipping in 9.0 points per contest.

Johni Broome leads Auburn with averages of 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Williams is second on the scoring list, and Baker-Mazara is third with 10.1 points per game.

Pearl said his team has played solid defense throughout the season. He said he has emphasized the importance of shooting well as tournament season approaches.

“In March, if you’re going to advance, you’ve got to start making shots,” Pearl said. “We talked about the 2019 (Final Four team). Not to equate this team with that team, OK? But just to say, ‘Here’s what happened.'”

Tennessee is 13-1 at home this season; Auburn is 4-4 on the road.

–Field Level Media

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