Game Preview: No. 19 Alabama vs No. 14 Tennessee
When: Wednesday, December 29 at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN2
Location: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, AL
No. 19 Alabama hosts No. 14 Tennessee inside Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday night to open SEC play for the 2021-22 season.
Alabama are coming off their third loss of the season last Tuesday as the Crimson Tide fell to Davidson 79-78 in Birmingham in the C.M. Newton Classic. A game in which the Crimson Tide never led in the second half, Alabama did shoot a combined 44.8% from the field, as well as three scorers in double-figures led by guard Jaden Shackelford with 20 points.
Now ranked as the No. 19 team in the country, the Crimson Tide enter SEC play at 9-3 on the year, and have lost two of their last three games. Averaging 82.9 PPG offensively, Alabama has eight players averaging 6+ PPG led by the previously mentioned Shackelford, but have struggled at times defensively this season allowing a combined 73.3 PPG to opponents.
Tennessee on the other hand enter SEC play coming off arguably their best win of the season as the Volunteers defeated then No. 6 ranked Arizona 77-73 last Wednesday night in Knoxville. Despite Tennessee leading for most of the game, the Wildcats made a late run due to a 52-point second half, but the Volunteers were able to pull out the impressive win led by a double-double from senior forward John Fulkerson (24p, 10r).
Ranked as the No. 14 team in the country at 9-2, the Volunteers are averaging 78.4 PPG offensively, and are only allowing 59.3 PPG to opponents led by the No. 2 ranked team in the country in defensive efficiency according to KenPom. The previously mentioned Fulkerson and guard Santiago Vescovi are names that have played against the Crimson Tide before, but leading the Volunteers in scoring is five-star freshman Kennedy Chandler who averages 14 PPG, 3 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 2 SPG.
There is no denying that the Crimson Tide need a big bounce back game both offensively and defensively to reverse recent trends, but as expected in the SEC this season, no game will be easy for anyone. Alabama should pick up the win here playing on their home court, but it will be a close contest throughout, similar to the win over Houston recently.
Prediction: Alabama 79, Tennessee 75