After a tough loss to the Vols, the Alabama Crimson Tide faces two must-wins to finish SEC season

In Tuscaloosa Saturday night Tennessee took the SEC regular season lead. Alabama Basketball must depend on help and also must beat Florida on the road and Arkansas at home.

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
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The Alabama Crimson Tide's rematch with the Tennessee Vols did not go as planned. Tennessee beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, 81-74.

The Vols deserve credit for tough defense throughout. Rick Barnes had a good plan and his team executed it. Alabama played better than normal defensively, but it was not enough.


The Crimson Tide committed 12 turnovers to six for Tennessee and the result was The Vols gained 17 points off turnovers to the Crimson Tide's nine. The Vols took more threes than did the Tide, 40 attempts to 37. They also made a higher percentage of them, shooting 30% outside the arc to 24% for the Crimson Tide.

Not to make excuses for Nate Oats' team, but foul trouble and fouling out, restricting Grant Nelson to 16 minutes, was a factor in the game. Also making it tough on the Crimson Tide roster was another contest in which Latrell Wrightsell was unable to play.

The best result for Bama in the game was holding the SEC's leading scorer, Dalton Knecht to 13 points. Extra attention on Knecht gave Tennessee's Zakai Zeigler more looks at the basket and he led the Vols in scoring with 18 points.

The Vols now own a three-game winning streak over the Crimson Tide.

If Alabama wins out and Tennessee loses against South Carolina on the road or at home to Kentucky, the Tide and the Vols could be the SEC Regular Season Co-Champions. A South Carolina win over Tennessee could also lead to the Crimson Tide, Vols, and the Gamecocks sharing the SEC Regular Season Championship.

After the game, Nate Oats said, "We've got to make better decisions down the stretch. I thought we threw away way too many possessions on the offensive end." A disappointed Oats also said, "When you get a 7-point lead against a good team you can't take possessions for granted."

Florida also lost on Saturday, on the road against South Carolina, 82-76. The Gators have won five of their last seven games and a solid NCAA Tournament team. Florida has not lost in Gainesville since Kentucky beat them by two points on Jan. 6.

Against Tennessee, 51 of the Tide's 74 points came from Mark Sears, Aaron Estrada and Nick Pringle. Sears was the Tide's leading scorer with 22 points.

Note: Game stats provided by StatBroadcast.com