Things are looking really good for the Tennessee men’s basketball team. They just keep winning — coming out on top of their last six contests. Suddenly earning one of the top seeds in the NCAA Tournament seems possible, if not likely. But first things first — next up is Alabama, who will offer the Volunteers a tricky road test.
Alabama is a tough one to figure out. In their last five games they’ve managed to beat Oklahoma and Florida, but lost to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Missouri. They truly are one of those teams that can hang with or lose to anybody.
To their credit, they get up for the big games. Alabama has beaten their last four ranked opponents, dating back to a win over then No. 5 Texas A&M. This team is dangerous and they show up when the lights are at their brightest.
The Crimson Tide enter this one at 15-9 overall and 6-5 in SEC play. They’re currently in the NCAA Tournament field as a No. 9 seed, according to Joe Lunardi.
Alabama goes as Collin Sexton goes. The 6-3 freshman guard has been outstanding for the Tide this season, averaging north of 18 points per game this year. He gets rebounds, assists and shoots a decent 33 percent from deep. Tennessee will have to hone in on Sexton all night long in Tuscaloosa.
Rick Barnes is obviously aware of Sexton’s talent. “He has a great pace and feel for the game,” Barnes said on Friday. “He does a good job getting to the basket and can raise up on you. Anytime you have a guy that can do that with you, yet get to the basket and finish, it puts pressure not only on your perimeter defense, but your interior defense.”
Outside of Sexton, Alabama has three more players that average double digit points. Forward Donta Hall mans the frontcourt for Alabama, scoring ten per game and grabbing seven boards per contest. The 6-9, 232 pounder will see plenty of Grant Williams.
Two 6-5 guards in John Petty and Dazon Ingram round out the primary scoring options for Alabama. Barnes praised Alabama’s length and athleticism, which will no doubt give Tennessee some trouble on both ends of the floor.
What do the rankings say?
Game line: Tennessee -2.5
Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tip-off: 6 PM Eastern
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Vol Network
Streaming: Watch ESPN