It’s Hoops Time in Tennessee: Alabama Preview 2/15/23
Last time out: Buzzer beater? I hardly know ‘er. Also Alabama beat Auburn.
Previously on Vols vs. Tide: 52-49 DIXIELAND DELIGHT BAYBEEE!! Oh, basketball. Tennessee fought hard down two starters but came up short 68-73 in last year's contest in Tuscaloosa. UT trails the all-time series 70-82 and is currently on a three-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide. However, Tennessee leads the series 47-23 in games played in Knoxville. This is the two teams' first and only meeting this season.
Who to watch: Alabama's Brandon Miller, a Tennessee native from Antioch, has been a phenom for the Tide this season. Miller leads the SEC in points per game at 18.8 (shooting a league-best 43% from three-point range) while being 4th in the conference in rebounding (8.3/game). The 6' 9", 200-lb freshman is a legit Naismith Award candidate, and although Tennessee remains the top-ranked team in defensive efficiency, the Vols defense will have their hands full stopping, or at least limiting, what Miller does.
Prediction(?): Some warm fuzzies first:
- The Vols have won five straight home games vs. AP top-10 teams.
- Tennessee has five all-time wins over teams ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. The Vols are 1-1 vs. top-ranked teams at Thompson-Boling Arena.
- Tennessee is seeking its ninth regular-season win over a top-five foe under head coach Rick Barnes.
- Tennessee has won six of its last seven games against AP top-10 opponents.
- The Vols beat No. 10 Texas on Jan. 28 and No. 3 Kansas in November. Last season, Tennessee beat teams ranked Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6.
All of which to say there are plenty of trends pointing toward Tennessee being more than competitive in this game. The big trend, though, is the unfortunate way the last two games ended. How gutted is Tennessee after losing in heart-rending fashion against two teams they were beyond capable of beating? Where are our guys mentally right now? Can they bounce back against the #1 team in America? They certainly have the talent to pull it off, but I need to see how they react to the events of last week. As much as I am loathe to type it, maybe I can get some reverse mojo going: Alabama wins this one.