No. 6 Tennessee beats Auburn 54-42 despite season-low points

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) The Tennessee Lady Vols were in a gloomy mood, finding plenty of fault with their offense, defense and rebounding

Sometimes winning by a dozen points isn't enough for the sixth-ranked Lady Vols, who smothered Auburn defensively in a 54-42 victory on Thursday night.

''I think if you were to walk into the locker room somebody might have thought we lost,'' said Andraya Carter, who scored 11 points and made three first-half 3-pointers. ''It's a win but it doesn't feel like a win. It doesn't feel like a Lady Vol win.

''It's always good to win, but sometimes how you win and the way you go about winning is more important.''

The Lady Vols (15-2, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) weren't threatened much in the second half, with both teams matching their season-lows in points. Tennessee carries an 11-game win streak into Monday night's game at No. 7 Notre Dame but left Auburn Arena feeling the team needs a much better performance to have a chance.

''The last two games for us, we were underachieving,'' said Tennessee coach Holly Warlick. ''You can't continue to win games when you're not bringing your best.

''Our offense affected our defense. We missed easy shots. Defensively, you think we're solid and we gave up 18 offensive rebounds. It's eventually going to come back and catch up to you.''

Jordan Reynolds also had 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting to match her career high for Tennessee, which held its fifth straight opponent below 60 points. Cierra Burdick scored 10 points and Isabelle Harrison had nine points and 11 rebounds after a scoreless first half.

Tra'Cee Tanner led the Tigers (9-9, 0-5) with 14 points. Hasina Muhammad, Brandy Montgomery and Katie Frerking scored eight apiece for Auburn.

Carter didn't score in the second half but had four assists and four steals.

But the Lady Vols thrived mainly by keeping the Tigers, who led by three points 10 minutes into the game, from consistently scoring.

Tennessee built a 13-point lead over the first eight minutes of the second half before Auburn started to cut into it. Frerking hit a 3-pointer after Tanner grabbed an offensive rebound to trim Tennessee's lead to 42-35 with 10 minutes left. It was as close as Auburn could get and the Tigers would go nearly four minutes without scoring.

Auburn was just 19-of-59 shooting (32.2 percent).

''We're on a six-game losing streak,'' said Tigers coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. ''We don't have time for a moral victory. We make shots, we win this game. That's just the bottom line.''

The Lady Vols closed the first half on an 8-2 run to take a 26-18 lead, including two 3-pointers by Carter. The Tigers didn't score over the final three minutes.

It still wasn't a particularly satisfying win for Tennessee.

''That wasn't Tennessee basketball, and we've got to do better as a whole on the defensive end and the offensive end,'' Burdick said.

TIP-INS

Tennessee: Has won 13 of last 14 meetings in Auburn and eight straight overall.

Auburn: Has failed to reach 60 points during its losing streak.

FEW FREEBIES

Both teams attempted just six free throws apiece, with Tennessee making five and Auburn two. They were whistled for a combined 17 fouls, including 10 against the Lady Vols.

FIRST-HALF TROUBLES

Auburn has scored fewer than 20 points in the first half of three straight games, including 17 against No. 1 South Carolina and 12 against Hampton. Tanner was 4-of-5 shooting before halftime; the rest of the team was 4-of-26.

MASSENGALE

The Lady Vols' leading scorer Ariel Massengale had just five points, seven below her average. She had reached double digits in scoring in six straight games.

NEXT UP:

Tennessee visits No. 7 Notre Dame Monday night.

Auburn visits Alabama Thursday night.

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