TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Three straight turnovers led to a third straight loss for Tennessee basketball Saturday at Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum.
Trailing by a single point with just under four minutes to go, the Vols fell apart. One turnover led to an easy transition bucket by Andrew Steele. Another turnover led to two free throws for Steele. The third handed an open court layup to Bama’s Trevor Releford.
Just like that, the Tide took control of a back-and-forth affair and never let go. A game-tying 3-point attempt by UT’s Trae Golden drew iron at the final horn and Alabama snatched a 68-65 victory from the Vols.
Four members of the Tide finished is double figures, led by Trevor Releford, who scored all 15 of his points in the second half. Backcourt mate Trevor Lacey added 15 of his own.
Tennessee (8-6, 0-2 SEC), led by 21 points from Jordan McRae, shot 8-for-16 from the free-throw line and committed 16 turnovers.
Alabama (9-6, 1-1)made 16 of 19 from the stripe and committed just seven turnovers.
The first half summed up Tennessee’s offensive inconsistency.
The Vols began by missing 10 of 13 shots. Then made four in a row to take a 20-12 lead. Then went scoreless for the next 6 minutes, 6 seconds. Then closed by canning three of five shots. Nine turnovers were sprinkled in among the ups and downs.
A 28-24 halftime resulted for UT.
Then Releford showed up. The junior guard scored 10 of the Tide’s first 12 points to start the second half.
Alabama made 15 of 24 shots (62.5 percent) to beat Tennessee.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at twitter.com/BFQuinn