3 Observations: Vols Get Wake Up Call, Lose 78-50 to Alabama

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    Photo by Donald Page/UT Athletics

    No. 15 Tennessee was riding high after their first win in Rupp Arena since 2006 when they defeated Kentucky 61-59 in a back-and-forth contest on Tuesday night. But all those good feelings came down in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night.

    The Vols were crushed by a Crimson Tide team desperate for a big win on Saturday night, as Alabama (16-9, 7-5) demolished Tennessee (18-6, 8-4) by a score of 78-50. Alabama never trailed in the game, and this one was over halfway through the second half.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Vols’ embarrassing loss to Alabama.

    Wake Up Call

    The Vols were on a six-game winning streak and coming off a huge, emotional victory over Kentucky earlier in the week. There was even talk about Tennessee playing their way into a No. 2 or a No. 1 seed by ESPN and other outlets.

    But Saturday night was a complete slap in the face to all that talk.

    There wasn’t a facet of this game where Alabama didn’t dominate Tennessee. The Tide outscored, out-rebounded, out-assisted, and out-hustled the Vols in this game.

    Tennessee is lucky this type of performance happened in early February and not in March. Because right now it can serve as a wake up call as the Vols prepare for the stretch run before the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

    Unusually Bad

    Tennessee didn’t just play poorly. They played uncharacteristically bad.

    The Vols shot a putrid 24.1 percent from the floor, and their defense looked lethargic and out-matched in a way Tennessee hasn’t looked all season. Alabama completely manhandled the Vols in the paint, outscoring them 50-18 down low.

    Alabama had double the Vols’ assist total in the game (15 to 7), and he Tide shot nearly 60 percent for the whole game (59.3 percent). The 50 points the Vols scored were the lowest this season and their lowest total since they were held to just 38 points by, ironically enough, Alabama on January 10th, 2015. Grant Williams finished with a team-high 16 points, but no other Vol really approached double figures in scoring in the game.

    Performances like the one Tennessee just had tonight usually don’t repeat themselves for a team this good. It was one terrible night, and Alabama was fired up in front of a sell-out crowd. But the Vols can’t let something like this or even close to it happen again, especially when tournament time comes.

    Tuscaloosa Remains a Black Hole

    It’s not just the Vols’ football team who has it bad when they face Alabama on the road; Tennessee’s basketball team hardly ever finds a way to win in Tuscaloosa too.

    Tennessee has won just three times on the road against Alabama since 2000. In fact, Alabama has won 20 of the last 24 times the two teams have played in Tuscaloosa. The Vols’ last win in Tuscaloosa came in 2014, and that was the first since 2010. The football team hasn’t won in Tuscaloosa since 2003.

    The Vols rarely find a way to win against Alabama on the road. And they came up empty once again on Saturday.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.