Perhaps this was the fortunate finish that will propel the service plays heading into the stretch drive of the regular season in college basketball. BEST BET Auburn -6.5 who had previously been unbeaten at home and coming into this game with two straight losses against sub .500 teams needed a nice spot to get back on the winning track… and this game seemed perfect.
The game flow was anything less than perfect for Auburn. Offensively, they were terrible shooting the ball early missing 3-point shots and not even able to put in their free throws. Meanwhile, Tennessee took advantage of everything they could and by the end of the 1st half they had a 41-33 lead on the road.
You would expect that Auburn would come out with a fire in the bellies after the break and make a big move… that didn’t happen. In fact, Tennessee applied pressure defensively and was able to open up the lead to 17 points at 54-37 with about 14 minutes left in the game and all hope seemed lost.
Then out of nowhere Auburn proceeded to go on an 18-0 run that saw them take a 55-54 lead… that run took place over about a 7 minute period on the clock and Tennessee was thoroughly rattled.
At this point you would think Auburn had momentum and was ready to roll to the finish line. Actually, the game went back and forth with Tennessee showing some moxie that kept them in it to win as the game approached the 2 minute mark.
Auburn’s Doughty missed the front end of two straight one-and-one FT attempts and those misses appeared to seal up the fact that Auburn would never make the number in this game. After Tennessee tied the game at 64 on a pair of FT’s (Vols finished 16 of 17 at the line compared to 18 of 27 for Auburn) the Tigers were able to come down the court and nail a 3-point shot to take a 67-64 lead with 1:39 remaining… a lead they would never surrender.
Covering never seemed that likely in this game… especially considering the struggles at the line. A Tennessee layup following a timeout put the score at 67-66 Auburn with 1:15 left but Auburn kept the pressure up with a McLemore layup put the lead back up to 3 with 46 seconds left.
Vols turned the ball over and that led to a necessary foul. At this point, the Auburn FT woes would make it seem unlikely to get the scenario needed to cover the 6.5… basically, Auburn must make all FT’s and Tennessee must not score.
McCormick hit both FT’s at the 23 second mark to extend the Auburn lead to 5… so so close to making the spread. Fulkerson for Tennessee misses a tough shot in the lane at the 15 second mark and the Vols finally foul Doughty on the dribble with only 8 seconds left.
Now the entire wager came down to the same guy who missed two front ends… if he could make both FT’s then a cover was possible. Doughty did just that and swished both charity shots to extend the Tennessee lead to 73-66. It was the only time at any point of the entire game that Auburn was ahead of the number.
Vescovi threw up a 3-point shot with 5 seconds left that missed and the ball was batted around until the buzzer to seal the deal and get the BEST BET play on Auburn -6.5 back to the window. When you are gambling on the spread… the only thing that matters is MAKING THE NUMBER.