The Vols dropped a tough one in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday evening against Alabama. Here are five quick thoughts from the loss:
1. Meltdown: I have to call it like I saw it: the Vols completely melted down in this one and gave away a chance for a conference road win. Up by as many as 15 in the second half and with an eight-point lead with under four minutes to go, Tennessee had this one well within its grasp. Alabama finished the game on a 16-2 run, however, and stole one it what can only be described as a meltdown for a Tennessee team that very little will come easy for. “During the second half when we had a chance to have control of the game, we let it go,” UT coach Rick Barnes said after the game. “It just comes down to competitive spirit. We weren’t tough enough to compete for all 40 minutes. That’s what it came down to.”
2. Ugly game all around: Tennessee certainly wouldn’t have complained about getting an ugly win on the road, but the late meltdown made it all the uglier overall. The teams scored a total of just 20 points in the first 10 minutes+ of the game, shot a combined 22.2% from 3-point territory on the evening and turned the ball over a combined 33 times. “That might have been the ugliest 40 minutes of basketball between two teams I think I’ve seen in a long time,” Barnes said after the game.
3. Back and forth they go: There’s been a pattern in SEC play for the Vols recently – play well, have a setback, bounce back and then repeat the cycle. The Vols got their first road win on Jan. 16 at Mississippi State, followed that up with a horrible performance against Vanderbilt, knocked off a ranked South Carolina team and then had this clunker at Alabama. They must find some consistency in performance going forward if they’re going to finish strong in the SEC.
4. Not getting to the line enough: Credit the Vols for knocking down all five of their free throws, but that wasn’t nearly enough in this one. Tennessee made a living at the free-throw line against South Carolina, getting to the charity stripe 33 times in Saturday’s win. The Vols seemed content to throw the ball around the perimeter and jack up 3-pointers for most of the night. And when they don’t fall, as they weren’t on Tuesday, the Vols have a hard time winning.
5. Punter limited by foul trouble early: The Vols lost Kevin Punter for the remainder of the first half after he picked up his second foul at the 7:42 mark of the first half. Tennessee held a six-point lead at that point. It turned into a one-point lead by halftime. And while the Vols were able to build it back in the second half, those lost points early came back to haunt them in a game that came down to the final possessions. Punter finished well below his season average with 15 points on 5 of 14 shooting.
Final stats from Tuscaloosa. Alabama finished the game on a 16-2 run. pic.twitter.com/aZUZoosZQO
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) January 27, 2016