Dalton Knecht scores 39 to lead No. 4 Tennessee past No. 11 Auburn 92-84

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Dalton Knecht matched his career high with 39 points, including 27 in the second half, to lift No. 4 Tennessee to a 92-84 victory over No. 11 Auburn on Wednesday night.

The Volunteers (22-6, 12-3 Southeastern Conference) trailed 63-55 before Knecht took over the game, scoring 11 straight Tennessee points and 20 of 23.

“We struggled to score and Dalton got us going,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “The last 12 minutes was one of the great performances I've been able to see.”

Knecht's 3-pointer tied it at 66-all with 9:58 left, and his jumper with 8:38 remaining put the Vols ahead to stay.

“Dalton is terrific,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We thought we had guys who could guard him. When he went downhill, we could have offered more resistance.”

Zakai Zeigler had 17 points and nine assists and Jonas Aidoo scored 14 points for SEC-leading Tennessee, which has won five straight, seven of eight and 11 of 13.

Johni Broome had 23 points and nine rebounds for Auburn (21-7, 10-5) and Chad Baker-Mazara scored 13. Jaylin Williams, who was limited while coming back from a knee injury, finished with 12 points.

“(Broome) is a handful down there,” Pearl said. “He's a confident player and I trust them.”

The Tigers built that eight-point lead with a 10-1 run that included five points by Williams. But Auburn had no answers for Knecht's scoring binge.

“We scored 84 points on the road,” Pearl said. “When you’re playing for a championship, it should have been good enough. Our defense let us down.”

Knecht finished 12 of 21 from the field, 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 10 of 12 from the free-throw line. The 6-foot-6 senior also scored 39 points in a win over Florida on Jan. 16.

“We gave (Knecht) two-thirds of the court to get the ball,” Barnes said. “(Auburn) worked really hard to take him out.”

Knecht said he maneuvered to get Broome on him defensively.

“Broome's one of the best players in the league, too,” Knecht said. “I wanted that matchup.”

Knecht had 12 points at halftime and Aidoo had 10 as Tennessee led 44-40.

BIG PICTURE

Auburn: Having to cobble together a lineup while Williams (13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds) recovers from knee injury has been a challenge. Freshman Aden Holloway stepped up against Georgia last week, and Baker-Mazara and Chaney Johnson have also helped shoulder the load.

Tennessee: Aidoo is beginning to play with more passion and aggressiveness, going hard to the rim to complement his soft touch. He has picked up the intensity without getting into foul trouble.

UP NEXT

Auburn: Hosts Mississippi State, which beat the Tigers earlier this season, on Saturday.

Tennessee: At SEC title contender Alabama on Saturday night. Tennessee beat the Crimson Tide 91-71 on Jan. 20.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball