The 3-pointer: Alabama basketball gets ‘next-level performance’ to crush Tennessee, 78-50

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The up-and-down second half to the University of Alabama basketball season reached a new high as the Crimson Tide crushed visiting No. 15 Tennessee, 70-44, Saturday evening.

Junior forward Donta Hall had his fifth double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds in just 27 minutes, while freshman guard Collin Sexton had 16 points and five rebounds in just 24 minutes.

Alabama improved to 5-1 against ranked opponents while possibly taking a huge step toward securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

“What an outstanding game we played today,” said Coach Avery Johnson, who called it a “next-level performance.

“Can we sustain it?”

Tennessee came into the game riding a six game winning streak, and having won nine of its last 10 games. The Volunteers (18-6, 8-4 SEC) were also No. 10 in the latest RPI rankings listed by the NCAA after winning at No. 24 Kentucky earlier this week.

“Rough night,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “With this group I didn’t think we could be that bad.

“I didn’t like the way we competed. It was far and away our worst game of the year.”

Previously, Tennessee’s worst defeats were 94-84 to Auburn on Jan. 2, and 85-76 to then No. 5 Villanova on Nov. 23.

Alabama (16-9, 7-5 SEC) shot 59.3 percent in the second half while building on a 37-27 halftime lead. It was 12-0 in fast-break points and had better ball movement while notching 15 assists.

The Vols shot just 24.1 percent in the second half, including 0-for-7 from 3-point range, and made just 1 of their final 13 shots.

Here are three things we learned:

1. Hall is one of the best players in the SEC

Johnson started both bigs again with Hall and junior forward Daniel Giddens. Aided by an early hot start both were able to sit for a while in the first half and avoid foul trouble.

Hall had a monster game making 8 of 10 shots to lead all scorers.

“Even when he was bottled up inside he found a way to get through the cracks,” Johnson said.

Alabama ended up with just a 40-35 edge in rebounds, but outscored Tennessee 50-18 in the pant.

“When we were running all sorts of things were open in the paint,” Sexton said. “When we’re running I think we’re at our best.

“Donta was big.”

2. Alabama’s shooting still a little inconsistent

Because it hasn’t been shooting well from outside, the Crimson Tide emphasized attacking the rim and it obviously paid off in a big way.

But led by freshman guard John Petty it was 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) in 3-point shooting against Tennessee. Alabama was  7-for-39 (17.9 percent) during the previous two games.

Petty come in just 1-for-14 from 3-point range, 2-for-16 overall in his last three games. He made an early shot from beyond the arc and ended up 3-for-4 en route to 14 points and four assists.

Alabama made its first four shots to never trail and started hot in the second half as well. It also

had a scoreless drought lasting roughly 3:30 during the first half and some late-game shooting issues, but mostly after the victory had already been secured.

“We came out strong,” Petty said.

3 .You don’t want to play Alabama on a Saturday

The Crimson Tide have won five straight games on Saturdays, including three consecutive against ranked opponents. Last week Alabama won at No. 23 Florida, 68-50, and on Jan 27 it defeated No. 12 Oklahoma in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, 80-73.

The margin of victory has been, in order, 8, 6, 7, 18 and 28 points.

“The intensity we brought the whole game just rolled over. We had to come back from last game,” said Sexton, referring to its loss at Mississippi State on Tuesday.

“We were having fun.”

So was the sellout crowd of 15,383.

“I’m baffled by this to be honest with you, but we got what we deserved,” Barnes said. “What disappoints me are the points they scored in the lane.”

The post The 3-pointer: Alabama basketball gets ‘next-level performance’ to crush Tennessee, 78-50 appeared first on SEC Country.

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