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Auburn Basketball falls to Tennessee, 82-54

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Tahj Shamsid-Deen equaled his career high with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from outside, but Auburn basketball fell to Tennessee 82-54 on senior night in Auburn Arena on Wednesday.

Auburn (13-15, 5-12) trailed 10-0 early and hit its first field goal, a jumper by Chris Denson, with nearly four minutes gone in the first half. Jarnell Stokes' layup with two seconds left before halftime stretched the Tennessee lead to its largest in the first half at 44-20.

Tennessee (19-11, 10-7) led by as many as 28 in the second half on three separate occasions, the last on Armani Moore's 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining.

KT Harrell scored 15 points with four rebounds and four assists for Auburn. Asauhn Dixon-Tatum added 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Stokes scored a game high 20 points and added seven rebounds with seven assists to pace five Tennessee players in double figures.

Auburn is in action next on Saturday when it visits Texas A&M at 3 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by SEC TV.

Auburn head coach Tony Barbee

On the game…

"We dug ourselves into too big a hole. But I am proud of the way the guys kept fighting. I thought we fought in the first half, we just couldn't get any shots to go down, and we missed a lot of layups. But I saw a team that kept fighting, so I am proud of the guys for that. I am just disappointed for our seniors that they couldn't go out on a winning note."

On Chris Denson…

"I think he is pressing. I think he is thinking about the whole leading the SEC in scoring deal and it is hard to play under that pressure. We talked to him about worrying about the little things. Worry about guarding and playing defense, getting stops and rebounds. Don't think about offense because then if you put all the pressure of ‘I got to score' then it is hard to do anything else."

On Tennessee's defense…

"They guarded at the same time we missed a lot of shots that we made over the course of the season. So it was a combination of both."

On the team's effort…

I thought the guys fought. I thought we kept fighting. Nobody hung their heads. It was just one of those things where you can't get the ball to go in and we couldn't get the necessary stops."

K.T. Harrell

On the first half…

"We just didn't execute. We didn't move the ball well. We didn't have any pace offensively and they were able to capitalize on that defensively."

On senior night…

"It was extremely disappointing. We really wanted to get this for these guys because it was their last time playing in this arena."

Tahj Shamsid-Deen

On scoring…

"You really can't explain it. We came out flat and dead. They had more life than us and it gave them the big lead. We're going to come back tomorrow and get our head back to get ready for the tournament."

On the second half…

"We just didn't want to go out how we did. We wanted to try to have the seniors leave on a good note. We can't take the game back. We have to look forward to Saturday's game against Texas A&M and the SEC tournament."

 

Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

On if they are playing their best basketball now…

"I think so. We are playing hard and as a team. This is a team I envisioned defensively. It really helps when Antonio (Barton) is making shots. Antonio has done a great job running the team at the point. I have always been a guy, as a player or coach, that believes you can always get better. It is just a matter of the guys embracing it. You can teach it all day long, but if they don't embrace it, good things won't happen."

On if he has been challenging them defensively…

"It is never a challenge. You talk about it. You coach them and you teach them. That is every day. There isn't a time where I say one week we need to do something a little bit more. My approach never changed. It is just a matter of the guys knowing it and embracing it. I want them to know what it is like to be successful and what it takes to be successful."

On the late season runs…

"I think what helped us is Antonio. I think you can reach a high level of success with a good point guard. I don't care what you have on the interior and I don't care what you have on the wing, if you have a good point guard, you will have success. He helps us defensively, because he is the most vocal. It used to be Jeronne (Maymon), but I think Antonio has really stepped up and been that guy."

On Jarnell Stokes' passing ablility…

"Jarnell has had his shot fall. He has been doing a great job when they double him. It is just a case of shots falling."

Junior forward Jarnell Stokes

On tonight's win…

"It was all on defense. We basically drew a line and told them to cross it. I felt it was a great defensive effort from top to bottom. We were playing against two of the top leading scorers in the SEC. It's hard coming into an arena on senior night and winning the game, especially when the seniors are their best players. It was a great effort by the team."

On career high seven assists…

"I felt like I did a good job distributing the ball. We hit shots. When we do that, I won't force any issues at all."

On keeping the intensity up…

"We learned from our experience in other games. We just wanted to continue to push the pace as well as taking care of the ball. We were up by 30 points, and coach told us it is a long game. There was three minutes left. That's the mindset. It's a great mindset to have."

On playing their best basketball of the season…

"It's definitely our best basketball. Auburn felt that they could pull this game out, especially on senior night when emotions are high. We came in and took the life out of the arena. It's our best basketball and at the right time also."

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn Athletics Dept.

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