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Auburn Disruption No. 5 Tennessee in the Tigers of the Year Game

Auburn's Malik Dunbar goes for a return. [Photo:JohnReedUSATODAYSports)AUBURN, Alabama – Back and forth they went on Auburn's senior day. Auburn senior Bryce Brown and junior Jared Harper came up great, and it also made breakout star sophomore Chuma Okeke . 84-80 victory against No. 5 Tennessee was not only great for the tiger's outgoing seniors, it was great for the program. The Tigers are secured a No. 4 or 5 seed in the upcoming SEC tournament and sent Tennessee to only their third loss in the SEC. The victory was the first against a top 5 opponent of Auburn since it struck off No. 4 Arkansas in 1995. "Everyone in the country recognizes Tennessee is a final four team," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. "Everyone in the country recognizes that Auburn is able to beat and actually just beat, a Final Four team". And Auburn (22-7, 11-7 SEC) remained unbeaten in the month of March as the Tigers won their fourth straight game in a game that looked more like a heavyweight fighter in a game that included seven leading changes. It was this year's most energetic audience at Auburn Arena and with good reason: Tennessee and Auburn went back and forth in the second half after the Tigers fell behind as many as 11 points in the first half. Auburn opened the second half with a 7-0 round to cut into Tennessee, but ultimately it was Auburn's seniors stepping up: especially the late game hero of many games: Harper.…

Auburn’s Malik Dunbar goes for a return. [Photo:JohnReedUSATODAYSports)

AUBURN, Alabama – Back and forth they went on Auburn’s senior day.

Auburn senior Bryce Brown and junior Jared Harper came up great, and it also made breakout star sophomore Chuma Okeke .

84-80 victory against No. 5 Tennessee was not only great for the tiger’s outgoing seniors, it was great for the program. The Tigers are secured a No. 4 or 5 seed in the upcoming SEC tournament and sent Tennessee to only their third loss in the SEC. The victory was the first against a top 5 opponent of Auburn since it struck off No. 4 Arkansas in 1995. “Everyone in the country recognizes Tennessee is a final four team,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. “Everyone in the country recognizes that Auburn is able to beat and actually just beat, a Final Four team”.

And Auburn (22-7, 11-7 SEC) remained unbeaten in the month of March as the Tigers won their fourth straight game in a game that looked more like a heavyweight fighter in a game that included seven leading changes.

It was this year’s most energetic audience at Auburn Arena and with good reason: Tennessee and Auburn went back and forth in the second half after the Tigers fell behind as many as 11 points in the first half.

Auburn opened the second half with a 7-0 round to cut into Tennessee, but ultimately it was Auburn’s seniors stepping up: especially the late game hero of many games: Harper.

He broke a tie with a 3-pointer with 3:28 left, left another with 2:46, and the tigers held by the volunteers with four more free throws by Harper and a pair of ice by Samir Doughty with six s remaining balance. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes believes that one of Harper’s 3-pointers in the last minutes was tipped in by Anfernee McLemore and should have counted as two.

“That should have been a two-point game,” Barnes said. “That’s what everyone has said that went here.”

The game could not be reviewed and stood as a 3-pointer.

“I thought Ant showed it honestly,” Harper said.

Tennessee’s Jordan Bowden was forced along the out-of-bounds line near the Auburn student section with less than 10 seconds left and Vols behind two. The steal was forced by Okeke, star of the game for both squads. He made 22 of 9 out of 14 shots, beat three 3-pointers, grabbed five rebounds and also had four steals. Forward matched well against Tennissons players of the year candidate, Grant Williams . He ended up with 25 points, but when Auburn placed Okeke on him, he fought more often to get into position offensively and there was a big difference in the game.

Harper and Brown finished with 16 points.

Like most games, Harper hit the big shots down the stretch with his two 3-pointers and four free throws.

“He has had four good games,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. “In many ways, the team puts the team on the back, accepts the responsibility of a quarterback to have to make games. He has been exceptional.”

“We all have our own role,” Brown said. “Jared has the ball in his hands at the end of the match and he’s probably the best for us offensively.”

Auburn becomes No. 4 seed if South Carolina loses its regular season finale today or there will be no 5 seed if Gamecocks wins.

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