By: Caden Johnson

Knoxville, TN. – Tennessee was the favorite to win Wednesday night’s matchup over the Tide, and rightfully so. The Volunteers smothering defense helped them hand Alabama their first loss in SEC play. 

Alabama can attribute this loss to their 19 turnovers. Tennessee pressured everything inside of half court, and the Tide guards just did not respond well to the tight on-ball pressure. The Tide’s three main ball-handlers (Mark Sears, Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Bradley) combined for 11 turnovers. The tide also had just 11 assists as a team, making for an awful assist to turnover ratio. Tennessee finished with just seven turnovers in the game. 

The game was off to a rough start from the beginning, with Tennessee maintaining a lead for the majority of the first half. The Tide went on an 11-3 scoring run to end the first half, leaving the game tied at 29 as both teams headed to the locker rooms. 

The Vols outplayed Alabama in the second half in about every way possible. It seemed as if the only rhythm the Tide could find offensively was Bradley attacking the rim and getting fouls called and an occasional three from Nimari Burnett. 

“(Bradley) attacked their pressure like we needed to,” Coach Nate Oats said, following the loss. 

 Oats also added that Bradley was the only player with a positive assist-turnover ratio for the Tide. 

Other than Bradley, Burnett was the only other real bright spot from this game for the Tide. The Texas Tech transfer finished with 11 points and shot ¾ from beyond the arc before fouling out in the second half. Burnett has continued to shine after returning from his injury, and has proved he can show up in big games. 

Alabama fought hard in the second half, but ultimately couldn’t get stops against the Volunteers when it mattered. Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler torched the Crimson Tide tonight, combining for 30 of the Vols 68 points, each making three threes as well.

“Our defense was not the issue tonight, overall, but we could not get stops down the stretch when we needed to,” Coach Oats stated. 

With the loss, the Tide fall to 22-4 on the year, with a 12-1 record in SEC play. Despite the loss, Alabama remains on top of the SEC standings. 

The Crimson Tide will return home to take on Georgia Saturday evening.