Tide At Tennessee In Big SEC Game

If Saturday night's Alabama-Tennessee basketball game was being played in an arena where attendance was a problem, the place to look for Vols Coach Bruce Pearl might be behind a curtain. But there aren't a lot of empty seats in Knoxville and there is no curtain.



Alabama's basketball team will be at Tennessee Saturday in an important Southeastern Conference game. This is the final game of Pearl's SEC eight-game suspension for rules violations. Tipoff Saturday is at 4 p.m. CST (5 p.m. EST) with television coverage by Fox Sports South.

Crimson Tide Coach Anthony Grant pointed out that Pearl is at all practices and makes the game plan. More than that, he said, "They've got very good personnel and obviously a very good system. We've got to try to put our players in a position where they can do a good job on offense and then find a way to have some success offensively."

Alabama has been having success of late. The Crimson Tide has won nine of its last 10 games and has the best record in the SEC at 6-1. Bama, which is 14-7 overall, is 2-0 against the SEC Eastern Division (having defeated South Carolina and Kentucky, both in Tuscaloosa) and 2-1 in conference road games.

Tennessee will have a strong home court advantage. The Vols are averaging 18,220 fans per game at home. Tennessee has not lost at home since January 11.

Grant said, "Our guys have been in some hostile situations and we know Tennessee has one of the hightest attendance figures in the league and they are going to support their team. We've got to be focused and locked in to what we have to do between the lines."

Tennessee started SEC play 0-2, but has won five consecutive league games and is 5-2 after winning at Auburn this week. The Vols are 15-7 overall and have played what is considered to be the nation's toughest schedule.

The story for Alabama this year has been the Crimson Tide's defense, which is surrendering just 57 points per game, fifth best in the nation. Bama has held all 21 opponents and all SEC opponents to an average of just 0.83 point per possession, which is best in the nation. Additionally, opponents are averaging just 36.3 per cent field goal shooting, second best mark in national defensive statistics.

Tennessee is averaging 73 points per game.

Alabama is expected to continue with its regular starting lineup of 6-8, 228-pound junior forward JaMychal Green (aveaging 15.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game); 6-8, 227-pound senior forward Chris Hines (5.1 points, 6.5 rebounds); 6-6, 210-pound sophomore forward Tony Mitchell (14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds); 6-3, 186-pound senior guard Charvez Davis (9.5 points); and 6-1, 180-pound freshman point guard Trevor Releford (9.8 points, 3.7 assists).

Alabama leads the all-time series with the Volunteers by a 72-65 margin and won the last meeting in Knoxville, 70-67, in the 2008-09 regular-season finale.

Following Saturday's game, the Tide will face Vanderbilt in Nashville on Thursday, Feb. 10, at 8 p.m. CST on ESPN2. Bama returns to Tuscaloosa Saturday, Feb. 12, against Ole Miss.

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