Auburn Earns Most Important Win in Auburn Arena With Upset of No. 5 Tennessee
Tigers celebrate their big win over No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers March 9, 2019 (photo: USA TODAY Sports)
“Everybody in the country recognizes Tennessee is a Final Four team, [and] everybody in the country recognizes Auburn is capable of beating, and in fact just did beat, a Final Four team,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl after his Auburn Tigers beat No. 5 Tennessee, 84–80.
It was a meeting between last year’s regular season SEC co-champions. And it was a game to remember as the teams slugged it out in a back-and-forth battle in front of roaring fans at Auburn Arena. The house was packed despite the fact spring break had already begun. It might have been the best atmosphere this season.
What a way for the seniors to go out in their last home game in the Arena. In particular Bryce Brown and Jared Harper came through as they have done so many times before.
With a little over three minutes left and the game tied, Harper hit a 3-pointer and then another with under three minutes left in the game. And, he added four free throws before Samir Doughty iced it with two freebies of his own.
Pearl gave credit to Harper for leading the team to victory. “In many ways [Jared] put the team on his back,” said Pearl. “Accepting the responsibility of a quarterback to have to make plays. He’s been exceptional.”
The loss may have knocked Tennessee (27–4, 15–3) out of an SEC title, depending on what happens between No.10 LSU and Vanderbilt. The Vols need an unlikely win by Vandy to repeat as the regular season champs.
The win for Auburn was huge. It was not only the first over a top-5 opponent in 24 years, but it may have been the biggest victory thus far inside the new Arena. It also gave the Tigers a chance at a double bye if South Carolina loses its regular-season finale today. If the Gamecocks win, Auburn will be the fifth seed in Nashville. (Editor’s note: South Carolina beat Georgia to clinch the fourth seed and a double bye in the tournament.)