We knew going into last night's game that there would be tons of figurative pressure on both teams. What we might not have realized is that Tennessee's game plan would be to really turn up the literal pressure on Alabama's offense. The Vols did just that, and it cashed in with a 69-66 overtime win and one step further off the bubble and closer to wrapping up an NCAA berth.
Here's the game stats, with what I think were the two main story lines highlighted:
|Field Goals||27-81 (29%)||24-55 (44%)|
|3-Point FGs||7-36 (19%)||7-19 (37%)|
|Free Throws||8-12 (67%)||11-18 (61%)|
|Rebounds||41 (19 off, 22 def)||52 (15 off, 37 def)|
By now, we've figured out that Tennessee is going to get out-rebounded in most games (even when they come out ahead on the glass, it doesn't seem to matter) and they're not going to be stellar from the free-throw line. What the Vols are going to do is shoot and shoot (and shoot and shoot and shoot) until they go in, and they're going to play pressure defense to create turnovers and more opportunities to shoot (and shoot). They're especially going to shoot threes (and why wouldn't you when you've got a scorer like Chris Lofton). So even on a night when Alabama was shooting great, Tennessee was simply creating more chances for themselves to score, and it worked.
Meanwhile, the frustration of not being able to beat Tennessee's press has carried over to the Tide fans -- to the point of posting pictures of Junior and Lulu to make themselves feel better -- and that's a beautiful thing in itself.
Now if the Vols can just win a game on the road...