No. 10 Tennessee is reeling entering its marquee midweek matchup with No. 1 Alabama, losing three of its last four and each its last two games on buzzer beaters.
The 17-point comeback in Tennessee’s loss against Missouri left head coach Rick Barnes positive but the Vols are in desperate need of a victory and could be down two starters against the Crimson Tide.
Alabama is playing its first ever game as the nation’s No. 1 team and is heading on the road for its second consecutive challenging SEC matchup after escaping Auburn with a victory Saturday.
Here’s everything to know ahead of the rivalry matchup.
More From RTI: Two Tennessee Starters Questionable For Alabama Game
How to Watch – No. 10 Tennessee (19-6, 8-4 SEC) vs No. 1 Alabama (22-3, 12-0 SEC)
- Start Time: 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT
- Location: Thompson-Boling Arena
- TV: ESPN2. PxP: Karl Ravech, CC: Jay Bilas, Sideline: Alyssa Lang
- Online Streaming: Watch ESPN
- Radio (Knoxville): The Vol Network/The Vol Network App
Team Statistics (via ESPN)
What Head Coach Rick Barnes Said About The Crimson Tide
On the Brandon Miller and Kevin Durant comparisons
“I don’t think that’s fair to do player comparisons. I know this that Brandon is having a great, great year as did Kevin Durant. Kevin Durant won every National Player of the Year honors you could win. I think he was the first freshman to sweep them all. But Brandon Miller has got high level game at every level. I think Brandon Miller is Brandon Miller and I think Kevin Durant is Kevin Durant and certainly Brandon Miller has made an unbelievable impact on college basketball this year, doing the things he’s good at. Obviously has a great future in this game and I look at the Alabama team and they’re more than worthy of being the No. 1 ranked team in the country. They’ve earned it and maybe should have been there before right now. They have a great roster construction where everyone understands what they need and guys play their roles. They have the perimeter game. They have rim protection. They have guys that can score and get to the rim over top and dunk the ball. Nate Oats and his staff have done a great job and have more than earned the right to be the No. 1 team in the country. Like I said, I think they probably should have been there before now.”
On how you slow down Brandon Miller
“I don’t think you stop great players. You have to try and work hard and when the day’s done he’s going to get his points and you just have to hope that he had to work to get all of them, but when it comes to playing against great players, great teams you’re not going to stop them. You just have to hope everything they get they had to earn it.
On if he believes Alabama’s defense is underrated
“Absolutely. Their perimeter guys do what they need to do. They understand they have rim protection inside and I believe, they believe if you want to go in there we have some guys that can clean some things up. They’ll play personnel, they’ll play analytics. They would not have been able to win so many games they’ve won, in places that they’ve won without being solid, more than solid. They’re a much better defensive team than I think people give them credit for.”
- Spread: Tennessee -3 (-110), Alabama +2.5 (-110)
- Total: Over/Under 146
- Spread: Tennessee -2 Alabama
- Total: Over/Under 140
Probable Starters (via UT Sports)
- Points: Santiago Vescovi – 12.2 PPG, 38.8 FG%, 35.2 3PT%
- Rebounds: Olivier Nkamhoua – 5.0 RPG
- Assists: Zakai Zeigler – 5.4 APG, 2.3 TOPG, 29.4 MPG
- Points: Brandon Miller — 18.8 PPG, 45.4 FG%, 42.7 3PT%
- Rebounds: Brandon Miller — 8.2 RPG
- Assists: Jahvon Quinerly — 3.4 APG, 2.0 TOPG, 18.2 mpg
Last Five Games
- 02/11/23 — L — Tennessee lost versus Missouri 86-85
- 02/08/23 — L — Tennessee lost at Vanderbilt 66-65
- 02/04/23 — W — Tennessee def. Auburn 46-43
- 02/01/23 — L — Tennessee lost at Florida 67-54
- 01/28/23 — W — Tennessee def. Texas 82-71
- 02/11/23 — W — Alabama def. Auburn 77-69
- 02/08/23 — W — Alabama def. Florida 97-69
- 02/04/23 — W — Alabama def. LSU 79-69
- 01/31/23 — W — Alabama def. Vanderbilt 101-44
- 01/28/23 — L — Alabama lost at Oklahoma 93-69
Everything I know about college basketball tells me Tennessee will win this game. The Vols are desperate for a win after a shaky few weeks while Alabama is coming off an emotional road victory at Auburn and has the No. 1 ranking as a target on its back. The Vols are favorites against Alabama and I’m confident the vast majority of the public will be on the Crimson Tide. Las Vegas is rarely foolish.
However, the potential unavailability of both Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips makes me much more skeptical of Tennessee’s chances. Beating Alabama starts with slowing down freshman phenom Brandon Miller and Tennessee being down its top two wings makes that even more challenging. If James and Phillips can’t go, sophomore Jahmai Mashack becomes the Vols’ most important player in this game.
Despite the importance of slowing down Miller, it feels like this game will come down to how Alabama shoots from the perimeter. The Crimson Tide want to score by bombing threes and after an elite three months of defending the perimeter, Tennessee’s three-point luck ran out last week when Vanderbilt made 11 triples and Missouri made 14. Does that trend continue Wednesday night or does it meet its end?
Those are the questions I’ll be watching. Alabama has been extremely impressive this season. Give me the Crimson Tide in another tight road victory.
Alabama 70, Tennessee 68