McRae leads Tennessee past Alabama 76-59
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Jordan McRae poured in 26 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead Tennessee to a 76-59 victory over Alabama on Saturday night.
Jarnell Stokes finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds and Josh Richardson scored 12 points for the Volunteers. Trevor Releford scored 23 points and had six assists and Nick Jacobs scored 13 points for the Crimson Tide.
Tennessee (14-7, 5-3 SEC) led from start to finish. After a three-pointer by Releford with 16:25 to play pulled Alabama to within two, 38-36, Tennessee reeled off nine straight points, extending its lead to 47-36. The Crimson Tide never got closer than eight after that. The Volunteers had their largest lead, 75-52, when Stokes made a field goal and a free throw with 1:57 remaining in the game.
''We couldn't get stops, and they converted,'' stated Alabama coach Anthony Grant. ''We couldn't muster what we needed to muster up to get those stops.''
Tennessee scored the first nine points of the game and the Crimson Tide (9-12, 3-5) responded by scoring eight straight points to make it 9-8. The Volunteers then outscored Alabama 21-15 to take a 30-23 lead at the half.
''It was a great performance by our guys in a tough place to play and against a tough team,'' stated Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, whose team recorded its first win at Coleman Coliseum since Jan. 19, 2010. ''Alabama is a team that rarely loses in this place, and I just thought that our guys did a great job battling and keeping our composure. It was a really good performance by our guys on the road against a quality opponent.
''Rarely do you play games at this level on the road against a quality opponent of this magnitude and coaching staff. To win like this, these guys did a tremendous job of handling the press.''
Tennessee, which never trailed, made 9 of 20 shots from 3-point range and committed just five turnovers.
''Tennessee was a better team tonight,'' Grant said. ''They had an answer for everything that we threw up.''
''We had a tough time finding consistency on the offensive end, and it affected our defense. We struggled offensively, especially in the first half. (Tennessee) played extremely well. They shot the ball extremely well. They made some plays and they made some shots that we felt were contested.''