For most of the week - especially after the victory in Lexington - most of the talk surrounding the Vols centered on the possibility of obtaining a number one seed for the NCAA Tournament.
After tonight, that possibility is likely gone as Tennessee was destroyed in Tuscaloosa by the Crimson Tide.
Everyone knew that this game would be a tough matchup for the Vols. Led by Collin Sexton, a future NBA lottery pick, the Tide are very talented and extremely tough when playing at home. This has been demonstrated in wins against Auburn (even more impressively, without Sexton) and Oklahoma.
But no one knew they would be 78-50 tough. I mean, that's just straight-up disrespectful. I didn't realize this was football.
The team that had won six games in a row and nine out of ten was a shell of itself, a departure from what has become the recent norm for men's basketball in Knoxville.
It became pretty evident early on that this game was not going to turn out well for the Vols after Alabama jumped out to a quick 17-6 lead. Junior forward Donta Hall was key to a dominating first half for the Tide. He tied for the team lead in points with ten and followed that up with a team-leading eight rebounds and three blocks, even adding a steal to the stat sheet.
Star freshman guard Collin Sexton was also key, tying with Hall for the team lead in scoring. Bama was surprisingly efficient as well, recording a 7-6 assists-turnover ratio despite ranking last in the SEC in that offensive category.
The Vols on the other hand were just dreadful offensively and defensively. They couldn't get anything going, shooting a mere 31% on 9/29 shooting. Bama out-rebounded them by eight (21-13) and held the Vols scoreless for over four minutes at one point to build a ten point lead at halftime, 37-27.
The thought at halftime was that the Vols would come out hot and close the gap, but that couldn't have been more wrong as Bama pretty much put the final nails in the coffin within the first few minutes of the second half.
The Tide scored on seven of their first eight possessions and before you could say Rocky Top, the Vols were down by 20. Bama just kept pressing and pressing, taking advantage of every mistake that Tennessee made - and there were plenty of them.
The defining moment of the night came early in the second half when Tennessee point guard Jordan Bone missed a gimme-type layup after making an impressive steal off of Sexton. Sexton was able to grab the rebound and cut straight through the Volunteer defense to put Alabama back up by 15 points.
This play set the tone for the rest of the night and Bama never let up, dominating Tennessee en route to a 78-50 victory.
Stats from the game:
- The Vols shot a season-low 27% on the night. They went 4-17 from 3pt, including a miserable 0-7 in the second half.
- Alabama dominated every major statistical category on the night while leading for the entire game.
- UT continued to struggle with size as Donta Hall led Alabama in scoring with 17 points and led the team with 11 rebounds.
- The 28-point margin was the largest margin of victory ever recorded against a top-15 team for the Tide.