Meme Jackson scored 27 points and Rennia Davis had 23 points and 14 rebounds in No. 10 Tennessee’s 78-69 victory over Auburn on Thursday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
The Lady Vols (12-1) took an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter, watched it slip away and then took control again. The Tigers (12-2) came in riding a nine-game winning streak and flirted with the upset into the final minutes.
Jackson shot 5 of 8 on 3-pointers and made all six foul shots for Tennessee after scoring just 10 points against Belmont. Davis went 8 of 11 for the hot-shooting Lady Vols, who hit 54 percent from the field.
Tennessee led 58-50 going into the fourth but Auburn’s Erin Howard opened with two straight 3s. The Tigers took a 62-61 lead on Crystal Primm’s layup with 5:41 remaining.
The Lady Vols reclaimed control with Cheridene Green hitting back-to-back layups to punctuate a 10-2 spurt.
Zaay Green also scored 10 for Tennessee.
All five Auburn starters scored in double digits but the bench didn’t provide a single point.
Unique Thompson led the Tigers with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Primm scored 16, Daisa Alexander 13, Erin Howard 11 and Janiah McKay 10.
The reserves were 0 of 9 from the field.
Jackson helped the Lady Vols move ahead in the third with seven straight points after the game was tied at halftime. She hit two fast-break layups and a 3-pointer as Tennessee opened its widest margin to that point after three quarters.
It was Auburn’s first game without guard Emari Jones, who sustained a season-ending knee injury against Alabama State.
Tennessee: Won its fourth straight since a loss to No. 6 Stanford. Committed 23 turnovers and forced only 11.
Auburn: Couldn’t sustain the win streak in its best start since opening 20-0 during the 2008-09 season en route to an SEC championship. Had won four straight league openers.
Tennessee hosts Missouri on Sunday.
Auburn visits Florida on Sunday.