Jarnell Stokes wasn’t touting Tennessee’s five double-figure scorers or his own big game after the streaking Vols’ latest win. Stokes had 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and the Vols used a stifling defensive effort to rout Auburn 82-54 on Wednesday night. “It was all on defense,” Stokes said. “We basically drew a line and just told them to cross it. I feel like it was a great defensive effort from top to bottom as far as guards anticipating and playing against two guys that are some of the top scorers in the SEC (KT Harrell and Chris Denson).” The Vols (19-11, 10-7) were up 24 points at halftime and never gave the Tigers (13-15, 5-12) a glimmer of hope. Stokes was 8-of-10 shooting for Tennessee, which won its third straight and is trying to strengthen its NCAA Tournament hopes. Antonio Barton made four 3-pointers and scored 14 points while Jordan McCrae and Jeronne Maymon had 13 apiece. Josh Richardson scored 10. Maymon also had eight rebounds for the Vols, who are making a late surge to spruce up the team’s NCAA résumé after rebounding from a 1-3 stretch. “We do this every year,” Maymon said. “We get tough wins down the stretch, hope it just pays off this year. It’s coming at the right time. We’ve got to take care of one more home game and get ready for the SEC Tournament.” Freshman Tahj Shamsid-Deen had 17 points and made five 3-pointers for Auburn, which has dropped six of its past eight games. Harrell scored 15 and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum added 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Chris Denson, the SEC’s No. 2 scorer, finished with a season-low three points in his final game at Auburn Arena. It might also be the home finale for Auburn coach Tony Barbee. Athletics director Jay Jacobs said after last season he expected to see “significant improvement” from the Tigers. Barbee didn’t respond directly to a question about whether that was his final home game. “I’m proud of the guys and the way they’re fighting and looking forward to playing against Texas A&M,” he said before walking out of the interview room. The Vols reached 19 wins for the ninth straight season and were never threatened. “This is the team I envisioned defensively,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said.
Vols deliver strong statement to NCAA
Tennessean | Mar 6