5 players Tennessee doesn’t want to see in the SEC Tournament

On Wednesday night, Tennessee knocked off Auburn and will likely be the top seed in the SEC Tournament, but these players could still put a scare into Rick Barnes when the Volunteers finally get to Nashville.

Tennessee forward Tobe Awaka (11) guards Auburn Johni Broome (4)
Tennessee forward Tobe Awaka (11) guards Auburn Johni Broome (4) / Angelina Alcantar/News Sentinel / USA
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The No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers went into Wednesday night’s matchup with the No. 11 Auburn Tigers with just three SEC losses and Dalton Knecht made sure it stayed that way. Knecht finished with a 25-point avalanche over the final 12 minutes of the game and outscored Auburn himself during that stretch to secure a 92-84 home win. 

Auburn didn’t have an answer for the Northern Colorado transfer who tied his season-high with 39 points in the game and did it on just 21 field goal attempts. Bruce Pearl’s team certainly doesn’t want to see Knecht again in Nashville for the SEC Tournament, but who are those nightmare matchups for the Vols, who currently hold the No. 1 seed in the conference? 

Tennessee is ranked No. 5 by Kenpom, 17th in adjusted offense, and 3rd in adjusted defense, with the 66th fastest tempo which is unfamiliar territory for Rick Barnes. It’s a nearly perfect recipe for success in March, something that’s largely eluded Barnes, especially over his previous eight seasons in Knoxville, but there are still a few chinks in the Vols' formidable armor. 

Tennessee is a bit thin on the inside. The Vols rank third in opponent two-point fight goal percentage, which is elite, but Jonas Aidoo and Tobe Awaka are the only two reliable big men on a team that ranks 175th in defensive rebounding percentage. 

There are two ways to beat a team this good, pound them on the glass, or just shoot the lights out from three. These five players are the most likely to do exactly that in Nashville and send the Vols packing. 

. C. 5. 525. . Junior. Johni Broome. player. Johni Broome. Johni Broome

He didn’t beat them last night, but Johni Broome gave Tennessee very real problems. He got Aidoo to foul out and finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Tennessee was constantly forced to double-team Broome when he caught the ball in the post and he did an excellent job passing out to open shooters. 

Auburn went 9-22 from three against Tennessee, the Tigers hit shots; they just couldn’t get stops. Broome is the best big man in the conference and Auburn is 39th in offensive rebounding percentage, so they can take advantage of Tennessee’s weakness. Dalton Knecht is just a total nightmare for Auburn to defend, so Rick Barnes would be fine with a rematch in Nashville. 

The Tigers grabbed nine offensive boards and Broome was responsible for two of them, but Tennessee outrebounded Auburn 37-30.