Auburn vs. Tennessee: Prediction, pick, odds, line, point spread, basketball game, tipoff time, preview


No 13  Auburn will be welcoming a divided Tennessee team on Saturday. Literally, the Volunteers’ traveling party is staying in three separate hotels because space in the Auburn area is limited as the university hosts the 2020 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships.

But there’s no time to make excuses for the Volunteers (15-11, 7-6 SEC), who enter needing to make a splash in the season’s final weeks in order to receive serious NCAA Tournament consideration. Winning on the road at Auburn (22-4, 9-4) would certainly boost Tennessee’s resume. And the Tigers could be vulnerable if star freshman Isaac Okoro misses a third straight game because of a pulled hamstring. After winning seven straight in SEC play, Auburn has lost two in a row while trying to figure things out while missing the 6-foot-7 forward.

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Tennessee: Replacing five of the top six scorers from last season’s 31-6 team has proven just as challenging as you might expect for Rick Barnes. Especially when the one returning starter, Jordan Bowden, is shooting a career-low 36.7% from the field. But the senior guard and his teammates have not forgotten how to play defense. The Volunteers are allowing fewer points per game (64.9) than any team in the SEC during conference play, thanks largely to Bowden’s hounding of opposing perimeter players. But four of Tennessee’s final five regular season games are of the Quadrant 1 variety, and the Vols are going to need some offense if they want to make a run.

Auburn: Auburn has grown accustomed over the last couple of seasons to operating without key players, be it due to injury, suspension or other reasons. But the loss of Okoro has proven befuddling so far for the Tigers. Okoro is the team’s second-leading scorer and arguably its best defender. It was a good sign that he traveled with the Tigers for their loss at Georgia on Wednesday. But head coach Bruce Pearl told reporters this week that he is handling Okoro’s return with “an abundance of caution.” That means Pearl may find himself looking for answers again Saturday as Auburn tries to stay in position for a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament.

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Game prediction, pick 

Latest odds via SportsLine: Auburn -6.5

The Tigers had a penchant for playing close games with Okoro in the lineup — four of their last five victories before his injury came in overtime — and they have lost the two games since he’s been out. With a defensively sound Tennessee team coming in and Okoro’s status still uncertain, the Vols have a great shot at covering on The Plains.  Pick: Tennessee +6.5





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