Alabama (12-6) at Tennessee (9-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) -- Knoxville, Tennessee. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Alabama 8-3, UT 7-2. Away Record: Alabama 2-3, UT 0-5. Neutral Record: Alabama 2-0, UT 2-1. Conference Record: Alabama 4-1, UT 1-4. Series Record: Alabama leads, 75-65.
GAME NOTES: The Alabama Crimson Tide shoot for a fifth straight win on Saturday when they visit the Tennessee Volunteers for a Southeastern Conference affair at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Alabama's latest win came on Tuesday, as Nick Jacobs scored 14 points off the bench to help lead the Crimson Tide past Kentucky, 59-55. Trevor Releford added 13 points and Levi Randolph netted 11 points for Alabama, which has won five of six.
Tennessee, meanwhile, lost to nationally ranked Ole Miss on Thursday, falling, 62-56. The Volunteers, who snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Mississippi State on Saturday, were done in by 21 turnovers and four missed free throws over the final three minutes. Jordan McRae matched a career-high 26 points in a losing effort. It was the third time in his last six games that he had reached that number.
The Crimson Tide have won their last three matchups against Tennessee to improve their all-time record over their conference rival to 75-65.
Alabama pulled out the win against Kentucky, despite shooting a mere 36.8 percent from the floor. However, the Tide came away with 10 steals and 11 points off turnovers. They are 11-1 this season when they record eight or more steals. On the season, Releford is the SEC's sixth-leading scorer with 16.0 ppg thanks in large part to his outstanding .857 free throw percentage. Lacey has been an impressive second option, shooting 43.8 percent from 3-point range en route to 12.2 ppg, while Rodney Cooper adds 11.3 ppg to the mix. As a team, the Tide make their field goals at a 44.7 percent clip, averaging 65.1 ppg as a result, but the biggest reason for their success has been their outstanding scoring defense, which ranks second in the SEC in yielding just 58.9 ppg.
Tennessee led Ole Miss 25-18 at halftime, limiting the Rebels to their fewest points in any half this season (the previous low was 29). Tennessee's defense held Ole Miss to just 4-of-23 from the floor for 17.4 percent. McRae tied his previous career-high on a 3-pointer with 3:15 left, making it 58-56 Ole Miss. He had a chance to tie the game with 2:32 left, but missed a pair of free throws. Tennessee could have tied the game again with 1:01 left after McRae drew an offensive foul, but Armani Moore missed two more free throws.
The Vols' offensive output this year has been modest at best, as they shoot 42.8 percent from the field for 65.1 ppg, but they usually rely on tough defensive play as they are among the SEC leaders in points allowed (62.3 ppg). McRae's impressive play of late has made him the team's top scorer (14.5 ppg), while Jarnell Stokes has been a steady force in the paint with 10.9 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Trae Golden shoots a mere 36.8 percent from the floor for his 10.8 ppg, but he has more than twice as many assists (73) as turnovers (35).
These two teams evoke similar styles, so a tight matchup from start to finish should be expected. Alabama though, should get a few clutch buckets from Releford down the stretch to pull out the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 74, Tennessee 72
01/26 10:59:52 ET