KNOXVILLE, TN. – Alabama came into Knoxville looking for their first real quality win of the season against the highly ranked Volunteers.

What happened instead was their worst performances of the season, a culmination of every bad tendency this team had early in the year, in the 91-71 loss. Turnovers were a problem, the defense could not get a stop, and it seems like Alabama is closer to their December version than one ready for March.

Looking through the box score of this game, you might suspect that it was closer than a 20-point game, until you get to one stat: turnovers. Alabama turned the ball over 22 times, compared to Tennessee’s seven. The Volunteers scored 23 points off turnovers, where as Alabama only had four.

“When you give up 40 points off turnovers and second chance points, you’re not going to win very many games,” said Head Coach Nate Oats.

This was the biggest problem by far on Saturday. Even when the Crimson Tide were trying to claw back into the game, costly mistakes on the offensive end set up Tennessee with multiple open looks in transition.

Turnovers are bad enough as is, but when Alabama was holding onto the ball, the just could not get any good shots up. Rick Barnes has made Tennessee into a stout defensive team, but there was a lack of any motion from Alabama on multiple possessions. It is hard to beat a team when your offensive players are not moving at all.

Combining those two factors meant that Alabama could never get into the game. From the jump it was all Tennessee, and the Crimson Tide never lead at any point in the game.

Mark Sears had 22 points for Alabama on Saturday, and he was the only player in double-digits. The Crimson Tide shot below 20 percent from three, which only added to the issues.

This game also highlights a trend for Alabama this season, that being the performances at home versus on the road. Alabama is 8-1 at home, with the only loss being early in the season against Clemson. The team is also 2-3 on the road, and 2-2 in neutral sights.

Alabama averages 105 points per game at home, and just 72 points per game on the road/neutral sights. The 105 average has a lot to do with their early season non-conference record, but still a large gap between the two numbers.

Winning in the SEC is hard enough, and going on the road in conference is a battle every time out. But Alabama has not put together a complete performance in any of their games away from Tuscaloosa. Even in its two conference road wins, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, Alabama let those teams come back into the game after having a big lead. That is an issue, and it was compounded when Tennessee came to play.

“We will see some guys show some character and come back ready to play a little tougher brand a basketball,” Oats said.

The team is not talentless, and the biggest way to look at that is through analytics, where Alabama is considered the best offensive team in the country. But at points they cannot get out of their own way and it hurts them with how poor the defensive numbers are.

The good news for Alabama is that their next game is at home against No. 13 Auburn in the Iron Bowl of Basketball. The Tigers are coming in after dismantling No. 22 Ole Miss 82-59 at home.

Alabama will need to play like it has all year at home against Auburn, and it rivalry games anything can happen. 22 turnovers is not going to get it done against Bruce Pearl’s team, but if Alabama can create better shots, they have a really good chance of winning this game.