Alabama’s tenure as the top ranked team in the country might be short lived, as the Tide dropped one in Knoxville.
Tennessee was able to control the tempo in the first half and force the Tide to play against their outstanding half court defense, and the result was a dozen Alabama turnovers as they put only 29 points on the board. The good news was that the Vols also had a rough go of it on the offensive end, resulting in a tie going into the break.
Tennessee came out with a bit of a spurt to get out to a five point lead early in the second half but the Tide worked back to even. With about ten minutes to play the officials seemed to almost will a bit of separation for Tennessee, swallowing the whistle on Jaden Bradley getting hammered at the rim sandwiched between two atrocious charges on Nimari Burnett and Brandon Miller. As a result, Tennessee managed to open up a six point advantage with just over eight minutes to play.
Both teams played hard on the defensive end, but Tennessee simply refused to turn the ball over and that was the difference in the game. The Vols got 15 more shots and won by 10, and the toothless, moonshine inebriated hillpeople got to celebrate.
This one wasn’t terribly surprising. It’s tough to go on the road anywhere, let alone to play a top ten team coming off a couple of close losses. Still, Alabama is going to have to learn to better protect the ball against these physical, slop-ball squads. This is how opponents are going to approach the Tide in the postseason.
Next up is Georgia on Saturday.