Tide Basketball Seems In Freefall

After a feckless effort and embarrassing loss to Auburn earlier in the week, Alabama's basketball team came out with good effort against Tennessee in Coleman Coliseum Saturday night. Unfortunately, nothing can overcome a poor basketball team, which unquestionably the Crimson Tide is. It is hard to find anything good as Bama has lost four of its last five games.

Alabama tried hard against Tennessee, but it was nevertheless another loss, and portends many more. The Crimson Tide had no answer for Tennessee's outside shooting, no way to stop the Vols from scoring easy inside baskets, and Bama has systemic offensive woes. In the second half, Tennessee shot 71.4 per cent on field goals (15-21).

The result was Tennessee 76, Alabama 59. Early this season the Tide was struggling to get wins, but the losses were close ones. In SEC play Bama has been blown out by Missouri, Auburn, and now Tennessee.

As was the case against Auburn, Alabama never led against Tennessee and the game was never tied.

The loss dropped the Tide's overall record to 9-12 and the SEC mark to 3-5. Tennessee improved to 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the conference.

With its great second half shooting, the Vols finished 23-48 for 47.9 per cent from the field. Tennessee was 9-20 on three-pointers (45 per cent) and made 21-26 free throws (80.8 per cent). Alabama made 20-51 (39.2 per cent) from the field, but only 3-15 on three-point shots (20 per cent). Bama made 16-22 on foul shots (72.7 per cent).

In some respects, Alabama played well. The Tide was competitive in rebounding with 31 to Tennessee's 32 and Bama had 11 offensive boards to 9 for the Vols. Alabama had only seven turnovers (and Tennessee even better, only five). The Vols, however, scored 10 points off Alabama turnovers, Bama only two off Tennessee miscues. Both teams scored 24 points in the paint, and the Vols had only a 16-13 margin in second chance points, offset by Bama having a 4-2 edge in fast break points.

Trevor Releford was the Tide's leading scorer with 23 points and also had six assists. Nick Jacobs came off the bench to contribute 13 points and pull down six rebounds.

Tennessee's Jordan McRae hit 5-10 on three-p[ointers and scored 26. Jarnell Stokes had his double-double early in the second half and finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds.

Alabama goes to Arkansas Wednesday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CST with television coverage by the SEC Network. The Tide does not return to Coleman Coliseum until Feb. 11, hosting Ole Miss.

For the third consecutive game, Alabama had a terrible start. The Crimson Tide opened in a zone defense that the Volunteers were able to shred with three-point shots, two on the first two trips for Tennessee.

Bama fell behind by 9-0, but had a nice eight-point run – including back-to-back three-pointers by Shannon Hale and Trevor Releford -- to trail by only a point. But the Vols were able to string three more treys around a couple of Tide baskets and with 8:30 had a 10-point lead at 22-12.

A Nick Jacobs putback and free throw pulled Bama to within seven and Releford had a couple of nice drives and two even more impressive assists – one to Carl Engstrom for a reverse layup and one to Levi Randolph with four seconds remaining in the half and Bama was able to stay within reasonable distance, down 30-23 at intermission.

It looked as though Alabama might fight back into the game early in the second half as the Tide pulled to within two points. But after Retin Obasohan made two free throws to get the score to 33-31, the Vols brtoke the Alabama press for a slam dunk. When Releford made two free throws to get it to 35-33, the Vols got an ungaurded Trey. Releford answered that three-pointer and it was 35-33 with 17:19 to play.

And then Tennessee ran off nine straight points, including McRae's fifth unguarded three-pointer, to put the game out of reach at 47-36.

The Vols would eventually open up a 20-point lead in the final three minutes and coast home with the win.

TIDE NOTES: As expected, Retin Obasohan returned to the starting lineup. Obasohan had missed two games with a strained hip flexor, but was able to play in the Tide's last outing against Auburn.

The starting lineup had Carl Engstrom at center, Shannon Hale at forward, and guards Rodney Cooper, Trevor Releford, and Obasohan.

Alabama has a 76-67 advantage in the all-time series against Tennessee. Bama had won four of the previous five meetings against the Vols.

Although Bama had a 14-game home winning streak against SEC competition until a few weeks ago, the Tide has now lost twice to league opponents in Coleman Coliseum this year.

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