Who's your daddy?

The Tennessee Basketball Vols will be facing a long Alabama team – and even longer odds – tonight at 9 EST in Tuscaloosa.

The Big Orange has made 18 trips to Coleman Coliseum over the past quarter-century, posting a pathetic 1-17 record during that span. The only victory was an 84-70 triumph in 1998.

Twelve of the 17 losses were by double digits, including some real beat-downs – 80-59 in 1985, 93-71 in '87 and 85-68 in '92.

Buzz Peterson couldn't beat Bama on any court during his four-year stint (2002-2005) at the Vol helm – going 0-2 in Tuscaloosa, 0-2 in Knoxville and 0-2 at the SEC Tournament in Atlanta. Among the losses was an 84-49 annihilation in Atlanta and a 72-54 drubbing in Knoxville.

Basically, the Crimson Tide has owned Tennessee more so than any other SEC foe over the past decade. Dating back to 1999, for instance, the Vols are 9-9 against two-time defending national champ Florida and 6-14 against tradition-rich Kentucky but a putrid 3-8 against Bama.

"Nobody has beaten us more than Kentucky and Alabama," Vol head coach Bruce Pearl noted. "Alabama and Kentucky have put a pretty good hurt on Tennessee basketball over the years."

Of course, the Big Blue has beaten a lot of people through the ages. The Tide's mastery of the Vols is a bit more perplexing.

"I can't really speak to the history," Pearl said, "other than I know that Alabama is always a big, physical, athletic team."

Although Pearl has enjoyed remarkable success since taking the Vol reins, even he has struggled against the Crimson Tide. He saw an eight-game winning streak emphatically snapped in a 92-79 loss at Tuscaloosa in 2006 and needed an overtime to post a 69-66 squeaker last year in Knoxville.

"Last year Alabama held us to 33 percent shooting – 19 percent from 3 – so we really struggled offensively," Pearl recalled, adding that the Tide "had a five-point lead with two minutes to go" before losing in overtime.

Historically, Tennessee has been unable to contend with Bama's superior size and athleticism. The Vols are bigger and more athletic this season, however, thanks to the addition of 6-7, 220-pound Iowa transfer Tyler Smith and 6-8, 205-pound Arizona transfer J.P. Prince.

Even so, Alabama projects to be a difficult matchup for Tennessee tonight in Tuscaloosa.

"They're third in the conference in offensive rebounding, and that's an issue for us – to be able to keep people off the boards," Pearl said, adding that the Tide poses great problems due to "their size and athleticism."

So, what else is new?


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