TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama men’s basketball team led wire-to-wire to pick up a resounding 78-50 victory over No. 15/14 Tennessee on Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd in Coleman Coliseum. Junior Donta Hall led the Crimson Tide on both ends of the floor, recording his fifth double-double of the year with 17 points and 11 rebounds, to go along with six dunks and three blocked shots.
With the victory, Alabama improved to 5-1 when playing team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, and has now won five straight over AP top-25 teams. Furthermore, the Tide’s 28-point victory was the largest margin of victory over a top-25 opponent since Jan. 18, 2005, when Alabama defeated then-No. 17 Mississippi State, 98-49.
Freshmen Collin Sexton and John Petty both reached double figures in the victory. Sexton poured in 16 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists, while Petty added 14 points and four assists.
"First of all I would just like to say what an outstanding game we played today,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “We played against an extremely well-coached team. [Tennessee head coach] Rick Barnes has won everywhere he has gone and we didn't catch them on their best day. Before the game people were talking about Tennessee having a chance to be a number one seed in some of the calculations. I am hopeful that they continue to play well this year and get a high seed because that will be great for the SEC.
“I am proud of our guys. We carried over a lot of situations and details from the last two practices and our morning shoot-around. Fortunately we were able to win the rebound game in the first half, but we didn't do a great job guarding the three-point line because they made four against us in the first half. But offensively, we were much more fun to watch. On to the next one.”
As a team, the Tide (16-9, 7-5 SEC) outscored the Vols (18-6, 8-4 SEC), 41-23, in the second half while dominating Tennessee in the paint, 50-18, in the contest to secure the win. Furthermore, Alabama outscored the Vols 12-0 in fast break points.
The Crimson Tide turned in a solid first half, shooting 55.2 percent from the floor (16-of-29) and contained the Volunteer offense to just 31.0 percent shooting from the field (9-of-29), while dominating the glass, 21-13, to take the ten-point, 37-27, lead at intermission.
Alabama charged out of the gates hot, hitting seven of its first nine shots to take a 17-6 lead at the 13:38 mark. Tennessee would respond with six unanswered points over the next 1:05 to trim the Tide’s lead to 19-15 at the 7:29 mark.
However, the Crimson Tide connected on six of its last eight field goals to end the half up double-digits.
Alabama carried the momentum from the first half into the second, using a 15-7 run to expand its lead to 52-34. The Crimson Tide continued to maintain its cushion, using a 14-2 run over a span 7:15 span to earn its largest lead of the night, 72-44, with 5:24 remaining to snap the Volunteers’ six-game winning streak.
The Crimson Tide connected on 59.3 percent from the floor in the second half (16-of-27) to total 57.1 percent (32-of-56) for the game. On defense, the Crimson Tide applied constant pressure, forcing Tennessee to its lowest point total of the season, while connecting on just 16-of-58 (27.6 percent) shooting in the contest.
Grant Williams led Tennessee with 16 points while totaling four rebounds, one assist and one block.
Alabama will close its two-game home stand on Tuesday, Feb. 13, when it faces LSU for the second time this season. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on the SEC Network.