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Alabama men’s basketball loses at Tennessee

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Alabama men’s basketball team lost a 59-54 decision to the Tennessee Volunteers in the final contest of the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. With the loss, the Crimson Tide, which will be the No. 5 seed in next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament, falls to an overall 17-13 record, and finishes with a 10-8 mark in SEC play.

The Tide had two players finish in double figures, as junior Riley Norris and freshman Braxton Key registered 13 and 12 points, respectively. Sophomore Donta Hall led the Crimson Tide in rebounding with seven.

Alabama was hitting on all cylinders in the first half, as hot shooting helped stake the Tide to a 14-point halftime lead, 36-22. Alabama used an 18-5 run in the opening stanza to take an 11-point lead, 21-10, at the midway point of the first half.

Alabama shot an impressive 57 percent (13-of-23) from the field in the first 20 minutes of play, compared to Tennessee’s 20 percent (6-of-30) from the floor. The Tide connected on 78 percent (7-of-9) from behind the three-point line, while limiting the Volunteers to just eight percent (1-of-12) beyond the arc. Alabama’s bench outscored Tennessee’s bench by a 23-3 margin, and Norris led the Tide by scoring all 13 of his points in the first half.

Alabama would go on to lead by as many as 16 points, 40-24, early in the second half before Tennessee began its comeback.

The Vols (16-15, 8-10) used an 8-4 spurt through the first five minutes of the second half to trim Alabama’s lead to 40-30 and would extend it to a 20-8 run over a span of 4:32 to cut the Tide’s lead to two points, 44-42, at the midway point of the second half. Tennessee would eventually take the lead, 48-47, with 8:35 on the clock.

However, Alabama responded with six straight points to move ahead, 53-48, with 4:30 left to play, forcing a timeout by UT head coach Rick Barnes. Out of the break, Tennessee knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to regain the lead at 54-53 with 1:48 left in regulation, which began a game-ending 11-1 run over the final 3:45 to result in the final score.

Alabama shot 25 percent (6-of-24) from the field in the second half, while shooting 13 percent (1-of-8) from behind the three-point line. In contrast, Tennessee shot 45 percent (13-of-29) from the field in the second half, including an imposing 55 percent (6-of-11) from beyond the arc.

The Tide shot 40 percent (19-of-47) from the field in the 40 minute contest, and connected on 47 percent (8-of-17) from three-point land. The Volunteers outrebounded Alabama 40-32, which marked just the third time in SEC play and sixth time this year the Tide lost the battle of the boards.

Tennessee was led by freshman Grant Williams, who finished with game highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Alabama will begin SEC Tournament play on Thursday, March 9, when it takes on the winner between the No. 12 and No. 13 seeds. The game will tip at approximately 2:30 p.m. CT.

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