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HomeSportsTennessee Vols rally in second half to beat Alabama Crimson Tide 59-54

Tennessee Vols rally in second half to beat Alabama Crimson Tide 59-54

Tennessee Athletics Department

Tennessee Volunteers - UT VolsKnoxville, TN Grant Williams recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Lew Evans added 13 points, and Tennessee surged in the second half to take a 59-54 win over Alabama in the Vols regular season finale Saturday in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Despite offensive struggles in the first half, Tennessee (16-15, 8-10 SEC) came roaring back outscoring Alabama (17-13, 10-8 SEC) 37-18 in the final period of play. Evans knocked down three of the team’s six second-half 3-pointers.

Williams recorded his fourth double-double of the year. Evans scored 13 points on 4-7 shooting while grabbing five rebounds in his final regular-season game in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Forward Lew Evans #21 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. (Hayley Pennesi/Tennessee Athletics)
Forward Lew Evans #21 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. (Hayley Pennesi/Tennessee Athletics)

Admiral Schofield scored seven of his 10 points in the second half including an emphatic dunk that sealed the win with 10 seconds remaining.

Tennessee’s Senior Day saw a slow offensive start for both the Vols and Alabama. UT was only behind 13-10 after a Schofield 3-pointer with 11:48 left in the period ended a five-minute streak without a made basket. The Tide’s Ar’Mond Davis then answered with a 3-pointer of his own which sparked a 13-2 Alabama run to extend its lead to 26-12. The Tide led 36-22 heading into halftime. Alabama’s bench scored 23 during the first half.

The Volunteers’ offense limped through the first half. Williams led Tennessee with eight points going into the break, but the team only shot 20 percent from the field. That stands as the worst shooting half UT has experienced this year. The previous low was 23.5 percent versus Gonzaga in Nashville Tennessee.

Three minutes after the intermission, Tennessee came charging back to flip the first half’s script. Evans knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing to start a 21-7 run for the Vols. The run came to a head as Williams hit a three as the shot clock expired from the right corner to take a 48-47 lead with 8:35 remaining. During the streak, Williams blocked a dunk attempt by Donta Hall off an alley-oop and became the third Vol in school history to have 60 blocks in a season.

The Crimson Tide was able to regain the lead momentarily during a cold-shooting stretch by the Vols who were 0-of-8 over the next five minutes. Tennessee rallied back behind a flurry of threes to take the lead for good. Evans hit two clutch 3-pointers during the 11-1 run that helped the Vols finish the game on top. Schofield hit the go-ahead 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:58 remaining to put the Vols in front 54-53.

“Sometimes with basketball, you don’t know. I’m really proud of the way our guys came back in the second half. Really and truly, you have to give Alabama credit. They’re a team that they do so many good things; they put your defense in some tough situations. Defensively, they do a great job of switching,” said Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes.

“They shot the ball well in the first half. They average making six threes a game and they made seven in the first half. They shot a very high percentage. Right before the half we tried to through our zone in there to break their rhythm a little bit, a little three-quarter court press. The second half we came out and we were going to pick up, just do what we could to break rhythm. I thought the difference was really our defense and rebounding,”stated Barnes.

Senior Day

Tennessee honored seniors Robert Hubbs III and Evans before the game. The Vols also recognized student athletic trainer Anna Buchanan and student managers Garrett Carter and Parker Eidson.

Williams Block Party

Williams had three blocks in the game to push his season total to 60, tying Doug Roth (1988-89) for the second-most blocks by a Vol in a single season. C.J. Black (1997-98) holds the record at 73.

Ball Control

The Vols committed only seven turnovers in the win marking the fourth time this season the Vols have committed seven or fewer. UT only had seven turnovers versus Presbyterian on December 6th, seven against Mississippi State on January 1st, and five against Georgia on February 11th.

Up Next for UT Vols

Tennessee will play in the 2017 SEC Men’s Basketball Championship which runs from March 8th-12th at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Game Highlights

Rick Barnes Postgame

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