#10 Tennessee 68, #1 Alabama 59
Incredible effort from Rick Barnes’ Vols tonight. The preview post for this game expected an Alabama win based mostly on doubt in Tennessee’s ability to shake the cloud of back-to-back buzzer beater losses. The preview post is happy to be wrong. Reverse mojo in effect.
Jahmai Mashack put Bama’s Brandon Miller in the torture rack for most of the night. Mashack, tasked with guarding Miller throughout the bulk of the game, held the future top-5 draft pick to 4/11 shooting and just 15 points. Jonas Aidoo should invoice UT's physical plant for all the glass he cleaned tonight, adding 12 points to 11 rebounds for his first double-double as a Vol. Uros Plavsic was his typical physical self but he also played smart and effective basketball, scoring and passing out of the low post and even hitting some clutch free throws (HE CALLED BANK AND YOU CANT TELL ME OTHERWISE). Zakai Zeigler put on a dribbling clinic and even as fouls began to pile up, continued slashing to the basket. Santiago Vescovi hit clutch shots in the second half and played smothering defense (as did the team in general). Santi also seemed to get his confidence back at the free throw line, shooting 80% at the stripe.
The story of the night, though, has to be the turnovers. Sweet Deacon Barnes on a cracker, the turnovers. Tennessee was slightly out-rebounded by Alabama and had a similar shooting percentage (the Tide actually shot significantly better from three). But the 19 turnovers Bama gave up shifted the game significantly and consistently. With a +11 turnover differential, the Vols never allowed Alabama to get comfortable on offense, and the smothering Tennessee defense held Bama to 24 points lower than their season average. Some points to finish with:
- The Vols have won six straight home games vs. AP top-10 teams.
- Tennessee has six all-time wins over teams ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. The Vols are 2-1 vs. top-ranked teams at Thompson-Boling Arena.
- Tennessee now has its 10th regular-season win over a top-five foe under head coach Rick Barnes.
- Tennessee has won seven of its last eight games against AP top-10 opponents.
- The Vols beat No. 10 Texas on Jan. 28 and No. 3 Kansas in November AND nO. 1 ALABAMA ON FEBRUARY 15