Once again a listless Crimson Tide team couldn't overcome a slow start, down 9-0 before scoring, and suffered a rare home blow out loss, being out classed 76-59 by the Tennessee Volunteers. The Tide faced a 30-23 half time deficit. 'Bama actually out-shot the Vols in the first half 32.1% to 29.6%. Why the half time lead by UT? It was their 6 of 15 three point attempts, while Alabama hit only 2-11. Tennessee also hit 8 or 10 first half free throws to account for the lead.
'Bama came out in the second half with a lot of energy and quickly cut the lead to two at 38-36. From there the Vols went on a 20-7 run to put the game out of reach. For the second consecutive game the opponent shot out of their minds in the second half. After Auburn hit at a 74% clip in Thursday nights second half, Tennessee burned the nylon at 71% (15-21), including 3-5 from three point range. The Tide improved their percentage as well to 48% (11-23), but only 1-4 from long range.
For the game the Vols were 9-20 from downtown and 'Bama was a terrible 3-15. Trevor Releford paced the Tide with 23 points and six assists. Nick Jacobs had one of his better performances with 13 points and led the team with six rebounds. Shannon Hale's string of double figure games ended at seven, as he finished with seven points and five rebounds. Retin Obasohan scored six points, but shot only 1-7 from the field.The Vols were paced by their outstanding guard, Jordan McRae, who scored 26 points on 8-14 shooting and 5-10 from three point range. Big, strong Jarnell Stokes played to his potential and destroyed the Tide inside, scoring 22 points and cleaning the glass to the tune of 16 rebounds. Josh Richardson added 12 points.
Early in the game Jimmie Taylor seemed to be a defensive presence in the middle as he blocked a pair of shots, and altered several others. However he only got 12 minutes of action. Jacobs was effective scoring the basketball down low, and actually did a good job rebounding, but inexplicably only received 16 minutes of playing time. Carl Engstrom started, played 23 minutes, and contributed his usual two points, two rebounds and four fouls. Somehow that doesn't seem like the correct distribution of minutes for the production received. Rodney Cooper scored two points and grabbed two rebounds in 19 minutes. Levi Randolph played 31 minutes, shot 1-6 and scored four points with three rebounds.
Sometimes it is hard to figure out this teams identity. When they came out in the second half and pressed, and pushed the tempo they were able to cut into the lead. Then they dialed back the pressure and the tempo and things quickly got out of hand. It would seem that full court pressure for 40 minutes would be the way to go with this group. With out much inside game,the team needs to lean on his length and athletic ability. There are several great athletes, just not very many great basketball players. Releford pours his heart and soul into every game, and continually gets no consistent help from anyone. I know the fan base is frustrated, just think how this kid must feel.
The road will not get any easier from here, as five of the next seven games are on the road, and it has been well established that the Tide has not won away from Tuscaloosa this year. The next game is Wednesday, February 5th at 7 p.m. vs Arkansas in the always tough Bud Walton Arena.The game will be televised by the SEC TV network.
It is getting harder and harder, but hang in there. Things have to (eventually) get better.
Roll Tide Y'all