KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee knocked off Auburn, 78-67, in a game the Vols never trailed as all five starters scored in double-figures.
Jordan McRae (21) and Josh Richardson (15) led the UT scoring parade.
The Vols improved to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in the SEC with their fifth wire-to-wire win on the season.
The win came with new Basketball Hall of Famer and Vols legend Bernard King sitting behind the Vols bench. With King on hand — the Vols’ all-time leader in double-doubles (62), Jarnell Stokes posted his 26th career double-double. He tallied 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Jeronne Maymon had 11 points and eight boards before fouling out late. Antonio Barton added 11 points.
The Vols shot an impressive 51.0 from the floor and out rebounded Auburn 42-28.
The Vols won their eighth consecutive home game vs. the Tigers dating to 1998 and sixth in a row in the series.
Auburn is now 8-6 and winless in the league at 0-3. Chris Denson led the Tigers with 24.
The SEC’s leading scorer KT Harrell poured in 15 points for the Tigers after coming into the game, averaging 19.3.
Coming off the heartbreaking last-second loss to Texas A&M on Saturday, Tennessee took control of the game early on with strong shooting and excellent defense. The Vols also dominated the glass early on grabbing 11 of the game’s first 13 rebounds.
The Vols took a 16-6 lead about seven minutes into the game on some splendid drives to the hoop by McRae and Richardson.
Richardson was the story of the first half as he converted 6-of-8 from the floor for 13 points to lead all scorers over the first 20 minutes. Stokes showed his power early on as well with eight points and eight rebounds in the first half.
Tennessee led 33-28 at intermission as Auburn’s Malcolm Canada connected on a 3-pointer — his first shot of the game — as time expired.
Auburn continued to hang around early in the second half, closing the gap to as small as two points. But, the Vols used a 9-2 burst to pull ahead by 11 at 50-39 on a nifty under-handed lay-up by freshman Darius Thompson with 13:36 left in the game.
McRae ripped off five consecutive points to regain a 10-point lead for UT after Auburn crept back to within five. That put the Vols ahead 57-47 midway through the second half.
Tennessee continued to keep the Tigers at bay for the remainder of the contest, leading by at least six and as many as 12.
Tennessee now leads the all-time series with 73-37 and has won six in a row vs. Auburn.
The Vols hit the road to take on No. 13 Kentucky this Saturday at 12 Noon ET. That game will air nationally on CBS and can be heard on the Vol Network. Last season, the Vols posted their largest win the series, an 88-58 victory over the Wildcats on Feb. 16. Tennessee has lost seven consecutive in Lexington, dating to the last win for UT on Feb. 7, 2006.