Alabama (15-9 overall and 8-4 in SEC play) dominated on the inside, getting double/doubles from 6-10 Jermareo Davidson (17 points, 14 rebounds) and 6-8 Richard Hendrix (16 points, 10 rebounds). UT's inside duo of Major Wingate (5 points, 5 rebounds) and Andre Patterson (15 points, 7 rebounds) combined for 20 points and 12 rebounds, whereas Davidson and Hendrix combined for 33 points and 24 rebounds.
"We just got manhandled on the inside," UT coach Bruce Pearl said on his post-game show. "That was a real key. We had nine turnovers in the post. We really got outplayed on the front line in a big way."
Tennessee (19-4 overall, 10-2 SEC) used a 16-6 spurt to take its only lead of the game at 23-21. Alabama responded with a 14-0 explosion, however, that produced a 35-23 lead. At this point the Tide had made 13 of its first 16 field-goal tries.
Alabama eventually built the lead to 20 points (50-30) with three minutes left in the first half.
Tennessee forced 12 first-half turnovers but lost the backboard battle 19-10 and shot just 40 percent from the floor during the first 20 minutes.
The Vols closed to 11 points (84-73) on a Chris Lofton 3-pointer with two minutes left in the game but Bama continued its amazing free throw shooting – the Tide finished 28 of 30 from the line – and kept Tennessee at bay.
The Big Orange tightened its defense after the break, limiting Alabama to 35 second-half points and 34-percent second-half shooting. The Vols also played Bama dead even on the boards in the second half, 20-20.
Lofton paced Tennessee with 22 points, hitting 7 of 15 from the floor. He was 6 of 8 from 3-point range but his Vol teammates were a combined 4 of 15 from beyond the arc.
The hero for Bama was guard Ronald Steele, who produced 22 points and 9 assists. He recorded 12 of the points and 7 of the assists in the first half, when the towering Tide put the Vols in a hole they never quite escaped.
"That's a really talented team; they should be playing well," Pearl said of the Tide. "Their size separates them from some people."