While Bama went the first six and a half minutes of the second half with zero points, Bama exploded for 20 points over the next four and a half minutes to break open a close game against the Vols.
Alabama, ranked seventh in the nation, improved its record to 22-4 overall and a loeague-leading 10-2 in Southeastern Conference play. Alabama will be at Arkansas at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday, a game that will be regionally-telecast by Jefferson Pilot. Alabama defated Arkansas, 109-94, in a game earlier this year in Tuscaloosa. Bama returns to Coleman Coliseum at 1 p.m. next Saturday to take on sixth-ranked Florida, which was defeated by Ole Miss in Oxford Saturday.
Alabama, which held a 48-42 lead over Tennessee at halftime, failed to score in the first six and a half minutes of the second half, but the Crimson Tide defense limited the Vols to only nine points in that time, so Bama trailed by only 51-48 when back-up Demetrius Smith hit a three-point shot that tied the game. Point guard Maurice "Mo" Williams then hit a three-point shot that gave Alabama the lead for good, and Ernest Shelton, another back-up player, had a field goal and extra point to extend the Tide's lead to six points. Bama had as much as a 15-point lead in the second half.
In addition to its brief lead in the second half, Tennessee had as much as a six-point lead in the very early moments of the first half.
Alabama's bench played a key role in the victory. Shelton had 21 points, Smith 13, and Antoine Pettway 10. That trio, the only substitutes used by Bama, accounted for 44 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six steals.
Erwin Dudley led the Alabama scoring attack with 25 points. Williams had 11 points and 10 assists and matched Dudley and Kenny Walker as Bama's leading rebounders with seven each.
Despite its early second half drought, Alabama finished with a good shooting day, hitting 46.3 per cent of its field goals and 37.5 per cent of its three-point shots. Bama also hit 24 of 30 free throws, 80 per cent. Bama had a slight edge in scoring from the field as Bama had three more field goals and one more three-point field goal than Tennessee, which also shot well from the field -- 45.9 per cent on field goals and 44.4 per cent on three-pointers. The Vols were not good on foul shots, only 18 of 28, 64.3 per cent.
Bama had only a slight rebounding lead, 41-34. Both teams scored 34 points in the paint and Tennessee had a slight edge in second chance points, 16-13. Bama scored 20 points off Tennessee's 15 turnovers, while the Vols scored only 10 points off turnovers as the Tide committed only eight miscues. Bama had 10 steals to Tennessee's four.