Tennessee had been clicking in almost every facet in its past six games leading into Saturday.
The Vols were blitzed by Alabama with a sold-out home crowd behind the Crimson Tide. Tennessee was never really in the game and lost 78-50. The Crimson Tide never trailed in the game and held around a 20-point advantage for about 10 minutes of the second half.
Tennessee’s strong defense couldn’t do much to stop Alabama’s speed. The Vols’ sharing offense was stifled by the Crimson Tide’s length.
Rick Barnes’ squad had won six games in a row. He felt the team still had plenty to work on. Saturday showed he was correct.
Here are three observations from the game:
Tennessee’s defense basically no-shows
The winning streak was in part because of Tennessee’s stranglehold on opposing offenses. The Vols held opponents to 58.5 points per game on average. The Crimson Tide had 60 points 11:55 left in the game.
Alabama guard Collin Sexton likely will be selected in the top 10 of the 2018 NBA Draft. He’s a quick player who gave the Vols fits defensively. Sexton put on somewhat of a show with a few behind-the-back dribbles on fast breaks. He finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 24 minutes.
Alabama shot 57 percent from the field. Most of the points came around the basket. The Crimson Tide scored 50 points in the paint.
Too much size
The points in the paint tell part of the story.
Tennessee struggled with Alabama’s size at the power forward and center positions on both sides of the floor. The Vols shot 28 percent from the floor.
Daniel Giddens (6-foot-11) and Donta Hall (6-9) gave Tennessee a lot of issues. The duo combined for 19 points and 17 rebounds.
Tennessee forward Grant Williams who is about 6-5, got going in the second half. He finished with 16 points, with 14 coming in the second half. He missed 7 of his 12 shots and didn’t record a defensive rebound.
Alabama’s starters flat-out played better
Tennessee’s bench has been an issue at times this season. It was the starters who struggled on Saturday.
Williams had a -26 in the plus/minus category, which was the worst on the team. Admiral Schofield had a -23, and Jordan Bowden finished with a -21.
Sexton was +29 when he was on the floor.
The Vols probably won’t have such a poor performance across the board with the starters too many times again this season.