AUBURN, Ala. — Grant Williams made a massive defensive play for Tennessee at Auburn on Saturday. Or so it appeared.
The Vols junior flew across the paint to swat a shot from Auburn’s Jared Harper in a three-point game. The emphatic block flew directly into the hands of Auburn guard Samir Doughty, who gathered it and shot a three-pointer. He buried it and effectively ended Tennessee’s chances to claim an SEC title on its own accord Saturday, as the Tigers held off the Vols 84-80.
The No. 4 Vols dropped the game they had to win to guarantee at least a share of the regular-season league title. The Vols will need Vanderbilt to beat LSU on Saturday night to have a stake in the SEC title.
Williams led Tennessee (27-4, 15-3 SEC) with 25 points, including four in the final 30 seconds to trim Auburn’s lead to four. Jordan Bone scored 15 and Jordan Bowden had 13.
Auburn (22-9, 11-7) opened the second half on a 7-0 run to take a one-point lead.
UT trailed by five when Williams took the ball at the elbow, spun and kicked to Bone for a three-pointer to pull UT within 64-62. Williams tied the game 69-69 with a powerful move from the top of the key, converting a three-point play with 4:49 to play.
Auburn’s Harper buried a long three, settling his feet on the edge of the center-court logo and burying the shot. He made another three — although it appeared Auburn’s Anfernee McLemore tipped in the miss — to put UT down 75-69.
The Tigers were whistled for a hook-and-hold with 23.1 seconds to play. Williams made two free throws and scored in the paint to cut Auburn’s lead to two. But Harper made a pair of free throws to extend Auburn’s lead to four.