KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Athletics) – A 19-point outing from Vols junior John Fulkerson led the way for Tennessee on Saturday, as UT fell to Auburn, 85-63.
Tennessee is locked in as the No. 8 seed at next week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville. The Vols tipoff Thursday at 1 p.m. ET / noon CT against the TBD No. 9 seed.
Seniors Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner took part in a pregame Senior Day ceremony Saturday. Turner’s UT career ended prematurely in December due to injury. Bowden finished with 17 points and a game-high four assists.
Fulkerson added seven rebounds and one block to his stat line while going 9-for-13 from the free-throw line. The All-SEC candidate has now scored 15 or more points in six of the past seven games.
Freshman Santiago Vescovi scored 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. The true freshman scored in double figures in all but one SEC home game this season.
The Tigers’ 3-point shooting helped them combat the momentum the Vols built during a stretch run of the second half.
Fulkerson picked up where he left off from Tuesday’s win at Kentucky in Rupp Arena. The Kingsport, Tennessee, native scored 13 of the Vols’ first 23 points. His hot start consisted of making four of his five field-goal attempts in the first half.
Tennessee opened the game with feisty defense, as the fast-paced contest began in back-and-forth fashion. With the Vols trailing by seven points, Jalen Johnson connected on a key 3-point attempt. Bowden later knocked down a triple to beat the halftime buzzer and cut the Tennessee deficit to 11 heading into the break, 42-31.
Auburn used an 8-0 run to increase its lead to 17 early in the second half, but Tennessee’s response came quickly and furiously. The Big Orange proceeded to outscore the Tigers 14-3 over the ensuing 1:49, with Vescovi accounting for two 3-point makes during the run.
The Vols battled the Tigers down the stretch, cutting the deficit to 10 with just under five minutes remaining, but could not take the lead.
Four Vols played at least 36 minutes, as Tennessee fell to 17-14 (9-9 SEC).
Samir Doughty led the way for Auburn with 32 points behind eight made 3-pointers.
Senior Day: Knoxville native Jordan Bowden had an efficient performance in his final regular-season home game and 99th career start in a Vol uniform. He recorded 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and one steal in 37 minutes of play.
Air France: SEC Defensive Player of the Year candidate Yves Pons finished the regular season with at least one block in each game, swatting away two shots on Saturday. He enters the SEC Tournament with 73 blocks on the year, which ties the program single-season record set by C.J. Black in 1997-98.
Up Next: Tennessee travels west on I-40 to Nashville to compete in the 2020 SEC Tournament. As the No. 8 seed, the Vols tipoff against the No. 9 seed Thursday at 1 p.m. ET / noon CT.