Foul Shooting Sends Tide To Loss
Alabama's starting backcourt was a combined 1-14 from the field. The Tide's leading scorer, JaMychal Green, hit only 6-15 shots, even though most of them are taken from within two feet from the rim.
Bama's defense did a good job on eighth-ranked Tennessee, but the overall result wasn't good enough. The visiting Volunteers handed Alabama its third straight defeat, 63-56.
Alabama has had the halftime lead in all four of its SEC games this year, but is now 1-3.
Fouls were a factor again. In the four SEC games Bama has played, the Crimson Tide has watched its opponents shoot exactly twice as many free throws, 92-46. From a statistical standpoint Tuesday night, Alabama out-scored Tennessee from the field, 48-47, but the Vols made 16-21 free throws, Bama 8-11. Three times Alabama fouled a three-point shooter for the Vols, one of them on a made trey. Tennessee scored on five of the seven foul shots from those situations.
Those fouls shots, however, were not as critical as when fouls were called. Tennessee was the first half victim. Senior star low post player Wayne Chism got two early fouls and spent 15 of the first 20 minutes on the bench. He didn't have a point as the Tide struggled to a 25-24 halftime advantage.
"We had a one-point lead at halftime with Chism out most of the first half," said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant. "I knew their productivity would increase in the second half." Chism scored 11 second half points.
Perhaps the worst foul on Alabama didn't result in shots. With 2:46 to play the Tide had fought back from an 11-point deficit to trail by only four points at 56-52 and Bama had the ball. Green and Chism had been jockeying one another throughout the game, and it was a surprise when Green was whistled for an offensive foul. The play seemed to kill Alabama momentum and the Vols pulled away down the stretch.
Alabama fell to 11-7 overall with its first three-game losing streak of the year. Prior to this stretch, the Tide had not suffered back-to-back losses. Tennessee, ranked eighth in the nation, improved to 15-2 overall and 3-0 in SEC play.
Alabama continues at home against a ranked opponent when the Tide hosts Mississippi State at 11 a.m. CST Saturday.
Grant said he thought holding Tennessee to 39.3 per cent shooting and 63 points showed good defensive effort by his team -- good enough to win most games.
Alabama, though, shot only 37.9 per cent from the field. The Tide was 4-15 (26.7 per cent) on three-point shots with the starting backcourt of Mikhail Torrance and Anthony Brock both going 0-4 from behind the arc. For the game, Torrance was 1-9 and Brock 0-5.
A bright spot for the Tide was freshman Tony Mitchell, who started in place of Senario Hillman. Hillman, who had been ejected in the previous game for a flagrant foul at Arkansas, did see action. Mitchell scored the first four points of the game with excellent putbacks. He finished shooting 5-8, including 1-2 on three-pointers, and had 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots, a couple of them dramatic saves.
Chris Hines came off the bench to hit all four of his field goals and have nine points.
Despite his poor field goal shooting, Green had 16 points and 12 rebounds, but also had five turnovers. Torrance had four turnovers as Bama had 14 miscues to 10 for Tennessee. The Vols got 16 points, Bama 10 off turnovers.
Tennessee was led by Scotty Hopson with 17 points. Back-up forward Kenny Hall had a double-double for the Vols, 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Grant said that Tennessee is an explosive team and it was a goal to limit the Vols' points in transition. He thought the Tide did a good job of that.
"We've got to find a way to generate more offense," Grant said. "We have to continue to develop our team, individually and collectively, to go out and make some plays."
Grant said, "We're under-sized and under-skilled. I don't know if there will be a (conference) game where we line up and say we have more talent."
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