Brown, Canty lead Auburn past Tennessee, 83-77 in SEC opener
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Bruce Pearl has been coach the last two times Auburn beat Tennessee - just on opposite sides.
Bryce Brown and Kareem Canty scored 20 points apiece to lead Pearl's Tigers to an 83-77 victory over his former team in the Southeastern Conference opener for both.
''So he can relax a little bit,'' Canty said. ''He was on our back about every little thing that he usually doesn't get mad about. But we kind of knew it was because it was a big game coming up, so we're happy we got that win for him.''
Pearl lost his first matchup against Tennessee on the road last season and said that one was more emotional, just walking through the doors at an arena where he logged countless hours and went through so many highs and lows.
Winning felt pretty good, though.
''It's a meaningful game,'' Pearl said, ''and it was one that we really had to have.''
He was the Vols coach in 2009, the last time they lost to Auburn.
Brown scored 17 of his points in the second half - including four 3-pointers - to help the Tigers (7-5) snap a two-game losing streak.
Tyler Harris added 19 points and 13 rebounds for Auburn. His brother, Tobias, played for Pearl at Tennessee.
Kevin Punter and Admiral Schofield helped keep the Volunteers (7-6) close with big games. Punter, the SEC's No. 2 scorer, had 31 points with six rebounds and four assists. But he and much of his team struggled from 3-point range - going 3 for 28. Punter, a 41 percent 3-point shooter, missed each of his five attempts.
''Defensively we know we're going to have to scramble and do some things,'' Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. ''We were just terrible on the offensive end.''
Schofield had 22 points and eight rebounds while Robert Hubbs III fouled out with 13 points. The Vols had won two in a row but struggled to put away East Tennessee State and Tennessee State.
Brown scored 11 points in the first six minutes of the second half for a 47-42 lead. Canty's 3-pointer and a driving layup by Cinmeon Bowers gave Auburn a 68-57 lead with 5:27 left.
Canty and Brown both hit five 3-pointers for the Tigers, who were 12 of 26 from beyond the arc. The Vols shot 38 percent from the floor.
Tennessee cut the lead to 80-75 on Detrick Mostella's 3-pointer from the right corner with 26 seconds left.
The Tigers could have put it away a little earlier but struggled at the free-throw line, making just 6 of 10 at one point down the stretch. Harris made two with nine seconds left after Schofield cut it to 81-77 with a follow-up basket.
Tennessee: The Volunteers had won the last eight games in the series dating back to when Auburn coach Bruce Pearl was leading Tennessee. The Vols outrebounded Auburn 48-37 and had 23 offensive boards.
Auburn: Pearl is now 1-1 against his former team, including a 71-63 loss last season. The Tigers shot 53 percent in the game, 59 percent in the second half.
HOT & COLD
Tennessee missed its first 11 3-point attempts and Barnes said at least six of the opening half tries shouldn't have been launched. For Auburn, Canty was 5 of 8 from 3-point range, Brown 5 of 9.
Auburn guard TJ Lang went down after a collision late in the first half, and Pearl said he was showing symptoms of a concussion and would go through the protocol for such an injury. Fellow guards T.J. Dunans and Tahj Shamsid-Deen are already out with injuries.
Auburn scored nine straight points midway through the first half for a 22-10 lead, capped by three consecutive three-point trips. Tennessee answered with an 11-0 run of its own and led 36-34 at the half.
Tennessee hosts Florida Wednesday night.
Auburn hosts South Carolina Tuesday night.