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Tennessee loses semifinal thriller to Alabama, 73-68

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The objective was clear for the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers (18-7, 10-7) and the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (22-6, 16-2) as they went into Saturday’s matchup: If you win, you’re punching your ticket to the championship game in the SEC Tournament.

A superb first-half performance and a double-digit second-half lead weren’t enough to take down Alabama, however, as Tennessee committed 19 turnovers and missed seven straight shots toward the end of the game. Davonte Gaines had a chance to put the Vols out in front with seconds left, but he missed both free throws, which essentially guaranteed the win for the Tide.

But it wasn’t Gaines’ fault by any means. Bama played their asses off in the second half and Tennessee’s offense was abysmal enough to allow the Tide to creep back into the game.

Tennessee finished the game shooting 41.7%, while Bama shot 37.3%. The Tide had issues with turnovers, too, but they were able to eventually stop the bleeding and make enough plays down the stretch to win the game.


Alabama’s offense came right out of the gate with a bucket on its first possession of the game, but Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson helped ignite a 9-0 run that put the Vols in front, 9-2, early. Tennessee made four straight shots while Alabama went on a 2:41 scoring drought that included two turnovers in a 2:13 span. Two free throws from Herbert Jones ended both the run and the drought, but Josiah Jordan-James immediately responded with a bucket on the subsequent possession and Tennessee led, 11-4, with 16:43 left in the first half.

Sloppy play —that included three turnovers on as many possessions— allowed Alabama to fight back and make it a 15-12 game, but Bama’s offense didn’t do much after. A 2:11 scoring drought that featured an 0-for-4 mark from the field were the catalysts in Tennessee re-establishing a multi-score lead. The Vols eventually pulled out to a 20-12 lead until a Jahvon Quinerly layup ended Bama’s scoreless run. Tennessee led, 20-14, with 11:12 to go in the first half.


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Tennessee just didn’t have enough to finish the job.



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