GAME NOTES: The Alabama Crimson Tide return home to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday night for an SEC clash with the Tennessee Volunteers.
Tennessee has alternated wins with losses since entering SEC play in early January, and with its 86-70 home victory over Ole Miss on Wednesday night it moved to 4-3 in the league. The Vols are impressive 13-7 overall this season but have won only one of their five road games.
Alabama most recently traveled to intrastate rival Auburn on Thursday and were handed an embarrassing 74-55 loss. The Tide are just 9-11 overall on the campaign and have gone 3-3 in the SEC, but the good news for this matchup is that all of their victories have come at home, as they have gone 9-3 in Tuscaloosa.
In a series dating back to 1914, Alabama holds a 76-66 lead over Tennessee. The Tide won two of three matchups during the 2012-13 season, including in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, 58-49.
The Vols led wire-to-wire in their 16-point win over Ole Miss on Wednesday night, as they shot 49.2 percent from the field (including 11-of-20 from 3- point range) and dominated the rebounding battle, 45-27. Jordan McRae was on fire from 3-point distance in the victory, knocking down 6-of-7 from long range on his way to 26 points. Jeronne Maymon and Josh Richardson netted 16 points apiece, while Jarnell Stokes tallied a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Tennessee's success on both ends of the floor has been well documented this season, as it shoots 45.5 percent from the field for 73.7 ppg while allowing just 63.8 ppg on 42 percent shooting. It owns an overwhelming +9.4 rebounding margin thanks to its twin towers in the frontcourt Stokes (13.6 ppg, 9.9 rpg) and Maymon (11.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg), with Stokes adding nearly a block per contest and Maymon shooting 52.7 percent from the field. McRae is the top scoring option with 18.9 ppg, shooting 43-of-115 from 3-point range (.374) and 100- of-125 at the free-throw line (.800).
The Tide were thoroughly outmatched by Auburn earlier in the week, as they were outshot from the field, 49 percent to 35.8 percent, in the embarrassing 19-point defeat. Trevor Releford finished with 15 points on 5-of-11 from the field and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line, while Shannon Hale and Retin Obasohan scored nine points apiece.
Alabama sports a modest offense this season, shooting 44.8 percent from the field for 69.8 ppg, but it has scored more than 80 points in two of its last three home games, and despite its under-.500 record, its offensive attack is still good enough to support its scoring defense (67.3 ppg). Releford (18.1 ppg) is one of the nation's most efficient guards, posting outstanding percentages from the field (.500), 3-point range (.396) and the foul line (.908) while also swiping more than two steals per game. Obasohan is also an elite defender, putting up 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per contest, while Levi Randolph brings 9.2 ppg to the table.
The Tide has not played very well against strong competition, but while Tennessee has looked great at times, it is still inconsistent, especially on the road, so expect Alabama's home success to continue.
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