Alabama tops Tennessee 56-38
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Alabama coach Anthony Grant wasn’t aware of what his defense had pulled off until just after Saturday’s win against Tennessee.
Once he learned his players held Tennessee without a field goal for more than 14 minutes in the second half, the even-keeled Grant didn’t harp on it much. He accepted it and moved on.
Alabama guard Rodney Cooper scored 17 points and Alabama improved its win streak to six games with a 56-38 victory over Tennessee.
Alabama (12-3, 2-0 SEC) held the Vols (9-5, 1-1) without a bucket for 14 minutes, 7 seconds, in the second half to overcome a 6-of-22 performance from the perimeter.
Alabama guard Ricky Tarrant had 14 points and forward Jimmie Taylor added 13.
Josh Richardson had 17 points for Tennessee, which shot 31 percent from the floor and made one of its last 16 shots.
”I didn’t know that until the game was over,” Grant said of Tennessee’s scoring drought. ”We were just thinking about getting stops. I thought it was a great effort by our guys.”
Tennessee trailed by five points at the half, but Richardson scored eight consecutive points for the Vols coming out of the break for a 32-30 lead with 16:50 remaining.
Cooper connected 23 seconds later on a 3-pointer to regain the lead, 33-32. He buried another from the wing with 8:16 to go that put Alabama ahead 41-36. He was 3 of 5 from the arc Saturday and never hesitated to shoot, though the team hasn’t excelled at the perimeter this season.
”I just relied on our hard work,” Cooper said.
Derek Reese’s jumper at the 14:44 mark trimmed Alabama’s lead to 35-34. He seized that lead with two free throws 1:05 later. Alabama held Tennessee scoreless until Armani Moore made a put-back with 38 seconds left.
Alabama outscored Tennessee 18-0 in that span.
”I think they were tough in the zone,” Richardson said of Alabama’s defense, ”and we didn’t do a good job of adjusting and playing our offense to it.”
Alabama owned the lead in the first half, as well – for 15:04, despite 3-for-11 shooting from 3-point range. Alabama entered the contest shooting 29.9 percent from distance.
Taylor was 4 of 4 from the floor in the first half and made a baseline dunk with 1 second left before halftime for a 29-24 advantage.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide picked up their first road win of the season, having dropped previous contests at Xavier (Dec. 6) and Wichita State (Dec. 16). Alabama improved its all-time series record against Tennessee to 77-67 and snapped Tennessee’s 10-game home win streak.
Tennessee: The Vols dropped to 7-1 this season when holding opponents to fewer than 60 points. Junior guard Galen Campbell, a walk-on from Knoxville’s Fulton High School, was awarded a scholarship Friday. Campbell walked on for the Tennessee program in 2011 and has appeared in 14 career games. He did not play against Alabama.
Alabama: Tuesday at South Carolina.
Tennessee: Tuesday at home against No. 23
Since losing 97-84 at Xavier on Dec. 6, Alabama has limited its last eight opponents to 50.9 points per game. Alabama shot 12 free throws to Tennessee’s 11, making the Crimson Tide 10-0 this season when shooting more foul shots than its opponent.
Tennessee freshman guard Detrick Mostella, one of the Vols’ top reserves, was limited to 8 minutes of playing time because of the ankle injury he sustained Wednesday at Mississippi State. He entered the Alabama game averaging 16.3 minutes per game and went scoreless Saturday with three turnovers.