Tennessee hasn’t beaten SEC rival Alabama in football in years, but the No. 7 Vols clearly have the much better basketball program right now and will be solid home favorites on the NCAAB odds for Saturday’s matchup against the Tide.
When: Saturday, 6 PM ET
Where: Thompson-Boling Arena
Stream: ESPN app
Opening NCAAB Lines: Vols will be favored
The schools played just once last season – they were to play again in the SEC Tournament but it was canceled – and the Vols won 69-68 in Tuscaloosa. John Fulkerson scored 22 points, Jordan Bowden had 20 and the Volunteers rallied from a 15-point deficit. Fulkerson is still with UT. The Vols trailed by 39-24 late in the first half before working their way back into the game. It was the biggest deficit Tennessee had overcome in a win since rallying from 16 points down in a 2017 victory over the Tide. Kira Lewis Jr. hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and scored 19 points for Alabama. The Tide had 20 turnovers.
Why Bet on Alabama?
The Tide (6-3) opened SEC play on Tuesday with an 82-64 win over Ole Miss. The win marked Alabama’s 800th SEC victory. The Crimson Tide are only the second team in league history to achieve that mark. Kentucky has 1,012 conference wins. Alabama has an all-time conference record of 800-626 (.561). Alabama now ranks third in all-time SEC winning percentage, trailing only Kentucky (.780) and Tennessee (.564) in that category.
Guard Jahvon Quinerly led all scorers with a career-best 24 points, while also pulling down five rebounds. John Petty Jr. (13) and Alex Reese (10) came off the bench and finished in double figures points, while Jaden Shackelford led the Tide in rebounds with seven. The Tide led the Rebels from start-to-finish and improved to 6-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points in a contest.
Alabama converted 43.1 percent (28-of-65) from the field while holding the Rebels to just 33.8 percent shooting from the floor. The Crimson Tide knocked down 12-of-37 threes while Ole Miss only had 1-of-13 find the net from beyond the arc. Alabama’s bench was the difference with 54 points compared to the Rebels’ 19.
John Petty Jr. has made a team-leading 16 three-pointers on the year, pushing his career total to 250 made threes. He now needs only 14 more treys to become the program’s all-time leader in the category, which is currently held by Brian Williams (1996-99) who made 263 career threes at Alabama.
Petty had missed Alabama’s previous game on a coach’s decision. He noted it was “something different,” but the veteran had no problem coming off the bench vs. Ole Miss. As for the incident that led to the one-game suspensions, that is in the past, Coach Nate Oats said.
The Alabama-Tennessee game will be the Tide’s first true road game after four neutral site match-ups earlier in the season
Why Bet on Tennessee?
The Vols (7-0) opened SEC play Wednesday with an impressive 73-53 win at Missouri. The Volunteers made their first seven shots to build a 21-4 lead. The second half was more of the same as the Volunteers hit their first three shots and scored eight points in the first minute and a half. Tennessee led by as many as 28 points.
The Tigers had just four assists and 21 turnovers and were thoroughly frustrated by Tennessee’s defense. "They played with more grit, more toughness and more focus," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said of Tennessee.
Sophomore Santiago Vescovi led UT in scoring, pouring in a game-high 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting and a 3-of-4 mark from 3-point range. National Defensive Player of the Year candidate Yves Pons put on an impressive performance, totaling 13 points, six rebounds, a season-high four blocks and two steals.
Pons now has 101 career blocks. The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year is just six blocks away from breaking into the top 15 on Tennessee’s career blocks list. Tennessee’s defense allows 0.66 points per possession when Pons is on the court this season. That’s crazy good.
“He can get so much better,” Coach Rick Barnes said. “He really can. But he is a player that we know he can guard 1-5 spots. We like the fact that he can come over and clean some things up. And he likes doing that. But whatever we ask him to do, he’s going to do it.”
Freshman Jaden Springer also scored 13 points while grabbing four rebounds and nabbing a season-high three steals off the bench for the Vols. Senior John Fulkerson was the fourth Vol to reach double-figures, scoring 11 points and pulling down six rebounds.
UT is off to its best start since 2010-11, when that season’s squad also began the year 7-0.
Tennessee 75, Alabama 68
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