UT-Alabama a clash between two of SEC's top teams

Josh Bone on making his second start for UT

The First Saturday in February doesn't have the same ring to it as The Third Saturday in October.

But it's still Tennessee (15-7, 5-2 SEC) versus Alabama (14-7, 6-1), the team that plays more physical is expected to win, and there are potential SEC championship implications.

"This has the feel of a big game,'' said UT senior Josh Bone, who will make his second start in place of shooting guard Scotty Hopson (sprained ankle).

"Coach (Bruce) Pearl told us it's going to be like an SEC championship game, because we are two teams in the race for the league title.''

The Vols are favored by a (3-point) field goal to beat the Crimson Tide at Thompson-Boling Arena today (TV: FSTN, 5 p.m.).

SEC West Division-leading Alabama has a league-best four-game win streak and has won nine of its past 10.

The Crimson Tide defense leads the nation in points per possession (0.83), ranks second in the country in shooting defense (36.3 percent) and fifth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 57 points per game.

If you didn't know any better, you might think Nick Saban had taken up coaching basketball.

Instead, it's second-year coach Anthony Grant leading the Tide. Grant came to Alabama as one of the most sought-after coaches in the nation after compiling a 76-25 record during his three-year stint at Virginia Commonwealth. All of Grant's teams have had a penchant for playing hard.

"It's going to be a very physical game,'' said Pearl, who will complete his SEC suspension today, turning over game-day duties to UT associate head coach Tony Jones for the eighth and final time this season. "The key for us will be to take care of the ball, because Alabama also leads the league in steals.

"You give them turnovers, it fuels their offense.''

The Vols have won five consecutive SEC games, but the Tide represents a different level of league competition.

The combined record of the five SEC teams the Vols have beaten is 12-25, and none of those teams have a winning record in conference play entering today's action.

"It's a step up for us,'' UT senior John Fields said. "This is one of the most athletic front lines that we'll see.''

No doubt, Alabama has outscored each of its opponents in the paint this season.

Tide junior JaMychal Green (15.7 points, 7.7 rebounds per game) leads the way. At 6-foot-8 and 228 pounds, Green is regarded as one of the finer athletes in college basketball.

"JaMychal is on every Olympic developmental team,'' Pearl said. "John Fields and Brian Williams don't get invited to those kind of things.''

Maybe not, but Williams has played big of late. In his past 47 minutes of action, Williams has hit 13 of 16 shots (81.3 percent) and has 33 points and 17 rebounds.

Pearl noted that in the five SEC wins, opponents have averaged 18 points between their power forwards/posts, while in two league losses those positions have combined to average 33 points.

Tennessee freshman Tobias Harris, still recovering from an ankle injury suffered last Saturday at Ole Miss, will be challenged.

"They're going to come right at Tobias,'' Pearl said. "(Chris) Hines is a good defender, and I'm sure he'll be excited about trying to shut Tobias down.''

Harris, who was outplayed in UT's loss at Arkansas, said he knows what awaits him.

"Alabama has tough guys that will come out and play hard,'' Harris said. "We'll have to bring all that we've got.''

Hopson Update: Hopson took shots with the team during Friday's practice but didn't take part in any drills.

Hopson, who said prior to this injury he has never missed playing time in his career because of injury, remains questionable for Tuesday's game at Kentucky.

TV Info: UT said next Saturday's game at Florida will be televised by ESPN at 6 p.m.

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 33

trl_x writes:

Go Vols! UN-Roll the Tide. Or maybe it's "roll" the Tide.

wsmows writes:

What does FSTN translate to on Comcast HD? Do I even get that? Big game and its on FSTN, is that like Fox Sports 247?I'm afraid of hieghts, but maybe I better buy a ticket.

iowavol writes:

getting excited about this game. be patient, play within yourselves and focus on taking care of the ball. I'd love to see a 20k whiteout in TBA.

VOLDoll writes:

The good news is the Vols play today! The bad news our cheatin, lyin, self promoting, hypocrite of a coach comes back afterwards.
What will he or his players do to humiliate the university this time around?
Only in Tennessee would fans literally worship a coach that embarrasses it's university the way Pearl has.

99% OF SCHOOLS IN THIS COUNTRY WOULD HAVE FIRED PEARLS AZ LONG AGO.
WHAT A SHAME, WHAT A SHAME!

rockytop#413695 writes:

in response to MrPearl_STILLHERE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yea, we can quote you, but who the F are you? You don't know anything. There will be no charge for Lack Of Institutional Control! Maybe a lack of monitoring but those are two totally different things. Pearl and staff may indeed have to be let go, but all true Vol fans will fight to keep them. And you can quote me on that one!

huntined#565710 writes:

First this is a big game...we need to win if we stay close in the sec. Second we can worry about our coach if and when we need to. I hope we get to keep Pearl BUT IF WE LOSE HIM THERE ARE A LOT OF GREAT COACHES OUT THERE AND WE WILL GET ONE. I think HAMMY sticks with Pearl even if he is lost for a year. But right now let's just play every game hard and worry about the Coaches when we have to. It is said that 80% of the things we worry about NEVER HAPPEN!!

crimsonviper writes:

in response to VOLDoll:

The good news is the Vols play today! The bad news our cheatin, lyin, self promoting, hypocrite of a coach comes back afterwards.
What will he or his players do to humiliate the university this time around?
Only in Tennessee would fans literally worship a coach that embarrasses it's university the way Pearl has.

99% OF SCHOOLS IN THIS COUNTRY WOULD HAVE FIRED PEARLS AZ LONG AGO.
WHAT A SHAME, WHAT A SHAME!

Are you wearing a thong?

skcoll43#262217 writes:

in response to VOLDoll:

The good news is the Vols play today! The bad news our cheatin, lyin, self promoting, hypocrite of a coach comes back afterwards.
What will he or his players do to humiliate the university this time around?
Only in Tennessee would fans literally worship a coach that embarrasses it's university the way Pearl has.

99% OF SCHOOLS IN THIS COUNTRY WOULD HAVE FIRED PEARLS AZ LONG AGO.
WHAT A SHAME, WHAT A SHAME!

earl will be back stronger than ever baby! Go cry me a river with Dicky V! The ncaa will conclude that enough punishment has been leveled and all will be well in Vol land. Have you ever told a lie and been punished $300g's a year for 5 years and suspended from work for 8 weeks?

Why don't you pick another team's site to irritate buzzard breath?

BleedsOrangeinMO writes:

So who are we going to be able to attract to UT to coach the men's BB team?

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to BleedsOrangeinMO:

So who are we going to be able to attract to UT to coach the men's BB team?

BRUCE PEARL!!

DoolanderVol (Inactive) writes:

in response to VOLDoll:

The good news is the Vols play today! The bad news our cheatin, lyin, self promoting, hypocrite of a coach comes back afterwards.
What will he or his players do to humiliate the university this time around?
Only in Tennessee would fans literally worship a coach that embarrasses it's university the way Pearl has.

99% OF SCHOOLS IN THIS COUNTRY WOULD HAVE FIRED PEARLS AZ LONG AGO.
WHAT A SHAME, WHAT A SHAME!

I take it your husband is either ZZ, Shen, SEC1, DC, VandyGrad, or Mr Pearl. Any women out there that would get anywhere close to those guys must have low standards and no respect for themselves then again you perfectly fit that criteria.

UTByrd writes:

Back to the article. You gave us UA's defensive stats, why not UT's? How about their offensive stats versus ours? If this was a report in school, I'd have to give you an incomplete.

Go VOLS!!!!!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Ignore the trolls!

Pearl is a great coach and a human being that makes mistakes like the rest of us. I think we get it together against the bleeding tide.

UT 66
Buma 62

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to rockytop#413695:

Yea, we can quote you, but who the F are you? You don't know anything. There will be no charge for Lack Of Institutional Control! Maybe a lack of monitoring but those are two totally different things. Pearl and staff may indeed have to be let go, but all true Vol fans will fight to keep them. And you can quote me on that one!

one

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Are you wearing a thong?

two

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to rockytop#413695:

Yea, we can quote you, but who the F are you? You don't know anything. There will be no charge for Lack Of Institutional Control! Maybe a lack of monitoring but those are two totally different things. Pearl and staff may indeed have to be let go, but all true Vol fans will fight to keep them. And you can quote me on that one!

three?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to skcoll43#262217:

earl will be back stronger than ever baby! Go cry me a river with Dicky V! The ncaa will conclude that enough punishment has been leveled and all will be well in Vol land. Have you ever told a lie and been punished $300g's a year for 5 years and suspended from work for 8 weeks?

Why don't you pick another team's site to irritate buzzard breath?

Ok this one's three

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to DoolanderVol:

I take it your husband is either ZZ, Shen, SEC1, DC, VandyGrad, or Mr Pearl. Any women out there that would get anywhere close to those guys must have low standards and no respect for themselves then again you perfectly fit that criteria.

four

mocsandvolsfan writes:

How many more times do we need to reply to the two Kns(perhaps) trolls?

iowavol writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

How many more times do we need to reply to the two Kns(perhaps) trolls?

OMG, when will the populous see the light. Don't give em air and they will die.

Katphan29 writes:

I think this UT team is on an upward swing, clearly my UK team has been on a downward swing. Too many freshmen.

UT is going to be at the top of the SEC (perhaps THE top or finish second) and I am hoping UK can finish 3d.

As talented as UK is, I am probably counting them out early, but they don't seem to have alot of fire. They step out on the court looking like they are going on an art museum outing.

I predict UT today by six, and (unfortunately) FL by eight.

eVOLved writes:

So sad: He's just not as sturdy as Smokey. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/st...

VolsInYourMouth writes:

Pearl made a big mistake with what he did....but i really hope he stays because I dont wanna go back to pre pearl days of UT basketball.

GBO, roll the tide today!!

VOLKING writes:

in response to VOLDoll:

The good news is the Vols play today! The bad news our cheatin, lyin, self promoting, hypocrite of a coach comes back afterwards.
What will he or his players do to humiliate the university this time around?
Only in Tennessee would fans literally worship a coach that embarrasses it's university the way Pearl has.

99% OF SCHOOLS IN THIS COUNTRY WOULD HAVE FIRED PEARLS AZ LONG AGO.
WHAT A SHAME, WHAT A SHAME!

GONG! Chuck Barris says you need some new schtick. Or maybe to read a Bible about judgemental people and what happens to them. Either way....GONG! Sorry, next contestant.

wellswillie#404648 writes:

We will need to be at our best to beat the Tide today but I am confident we can. Lets be happy that we have both Coach Pearl and Coach Jones the rest of the way but mainly that we have these great players they have recruited. Several including Pittsburgh head coach are saying Tennessee has strongest team in the SEC. Vol fans should be optimistic and loyal. We won't win 'em all but our share and so glad Coach Pearl prepares us again for NCAA Tournament with hardest schedule in the nation. GO VOLS!!

murrayvol writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Are you wearing a thong?

I'll wager he is.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Katphan29:

I think this UT team is on an upward swing, clearly my UK team has been on a downward swing. Too many freshmen.

UT is going to be at the top of the SEC (perhaps THE top or finish second) and I am hoping UK can finish 3d.

As talented as UK is, I am probably counting them out early, but they don't seem to have alot of fire. They step out on the court looking like they are going on an art museum outing.

I predict UT today by six, and (unfortunately) FL by eight.

Lot of Cat fans where I live. Most of em are scratchin' their heads and grittin' their teeth. They didn't bargain for this.

They were young last year too but had all the pieces. Not so much right now.

Katphan29 writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Lot of Cat fans where I live. Most of em are scratchin' their heads and grittin' their teeth. They didn't bargain for this.

They were young last year too but had all the pieces. Not so much right now.

That's a good way to put it - scratchin' our heads. These guys are getting pushed around in the SEC by more experienced teams. The question is, by the end of the year will they toughen up?

Can't say with confidence they will. With a team of this talent, one would think so, normally that would be the case. But this team's personality is different. This may be a busted year.

Katphan29 writes:

Usually the home team gets the calls in all SEC games. They seem to be even in this game. Unusual, and puts UT at a disadvantage.

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to volballrocks:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Breaks not going your way. Give me a break. With 18 secs Williams knocked it out; you got the ball! In the overtime, a call on our man doing nothing, puts you on the line for shots with the clock stopped. What do you mean not getting the calls? Bama had to beat the refs.

kcpboarder writes:

Here's a great idea....Let's shoot a 3 to win it when we're tied....Seems like the smart thing to do to me...espeacially when we're in the double bonus! Glad we learned from the other 4 or 5 times that it came down to the last shot...guess atleast this one we didn't shoot from half court!!

Rocky_Top_Mama writes:

I blame that loss on Melvin Goins--I don't know when players are going to realize that holding the ball in close games will get you beat. The Vols gave this one away! I know there was bad officiating, but TN had their chances and BLEW IT!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to MrPearl_STILLHERE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That is actually a decent question, and one I have been wondering about ever since Calapari was hired. I wonder what long-time, die-hard UK fans think about his repeated statements that he doesn't care about winning the SEC, he looks at every game in terms of NCAA seeding instead. He has also said that he cares more about getting his guys into the NBA than he cares about winning the SEC. If that is what he believes, then I applaud him for saying it, but that seems like a HUGE change in the culture of the Big Blue Nation.

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