McRae, Stokes Lead Tennessee To Rare Victory At Alabama

Vols' 76-59 Rout Just Fourth Win In Tuscaloosa Since 1981

Saturday, February 01, 2014 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Senior Jordan McRae scored 26 and junior Jarnell Stokes had a season-high 22 points and 16 rebounds as Tennessee knocked off Alabama, 76-59.

It was the Vols' 10th all-time win at Coleman Coliseum (10-29) and just their fourth win in Tuscaloosa since 1981, spanning 22 games.

The Vols moved to 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the SEC with their seventh wire-to-wire victory this season.

Alabama dropped to 9-12 and 3-5 in the league. The loss was the worst home defeat for the Crimson Tide since falling to Clemson on Jan. 1, 2008, 87-61, and worst in an SEC game since 2003.

Josh Richardson added 12 points for Tennessee.

Stokes' monster night marked his 12th double-double this season and 30th in 71 career games.

The Vols shot 48 percent from the floor in the game including 71.4 in the second half (15-21). Tennessee made nine 3-pointers on the heels of an 11-of-20 performance in a win over Ole Miss on Wednesday. The Vols are 20-of-40 on 3-pointers in their last two games.

Tennessee committed just five turnovers. The third time this season the Vols had five miscues -- which is the fewest in any game since 1992.

Alabama was led by Trevor Releford and his 23 points.

Up by six at halftime, the Vols saw their lead cut to two early in the second half. But Tennessee responded with a 9-0 run finished off by a breakaway slam dunk by Darius Thompson with 14:12 left in the game. That put the Vols up 47-36, their largest lead to that point.

Stokes stuffed home an emphatic slam dunk to increase the Vols' lead to a dozen at 53-41 midway through the second half. Richardson nailed a 3-pointer a minute later and the advantage moved to 13 at 56-43.

The Vols led by 17 on a McRae jumper with 5:30 left in the game at 64-47. The lead continued to balloon as McRae and Stokes poured in the points.

UT led by double-figures for the final 10:50 of the game.

Tennessee led 30-23 at halftime as McRae and Stokes each scored nine points. The Vols knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half.

McRae's third 3-pointer of the half put the Vols up by double-figures for the first time at 22-12 with 8:35 left in the half.

The Vols jumped out to a 9-0 lead thanks to a pair of game-opening 3-pointers by Thompson and Richardson. Alabama scored the next eight points to get back within one, but the Vols maintained a lead for the remainder of the half.

Tennessee returns to action on Wednesday as the Vols travel to in-state foe Vanderbilt for an 8 p.m., ET tip. That game airs on ESPN3 and can be heard on the Vol Network.

The Vols next home game is set for Saturday, Feb. 8 vs South Carolina at 3 p.m. That game airs on ESPNU. 

Tennessee (14-7, 5-3)

Richardson 4-10 1-2 12, Stokes 7-12 8-10 22, Thompson 2-4 0-0 5, Maymon 1-4 6-6 8, McRae 8-14 5-6 26, Barton 1-3 0-0 2, Moore 0-0 1-2 1, Ndiaye 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Lopez 0-0 0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-48 21-26 76.

Alabama (9-12, 3-5)

Engstrom 1-1 0-0 2, Hale 2-5 2-2 7, Releford 7-15 7-8 23, Cooper 1-4 0-0 2, Obasohan 1-7 4-7 6, Key 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor 1-1 0-2 0, Jacobs 6-11 1-1 13, Randolph 1-6 2-2 4. Totals 20-51 16-22 59.

Halftime – Tennessee 30-23

3-Point Goals – Tennessee 9-20 (Richardson 3-6, Thompson 1-2, McRae 5-10, Barton 0-2), Alabama 3-15 (Hale 1-3, Releford 2-8, Cooper 0-2, Obasohan 0-2)

Fouled Out – Davis

Rebounds – Tennessee 32 (Stokes 16), Alabama 31 (Jacobs 6)

Assists – Tennessee 13 (McRae 4), Alabama 9 (Releford 6)

Total Fouls – Tennessee 15, Alabama 21.

A – 12,620

Postgame Quotes:

Alabama Head Coach Anthony Grant

Opening statement:

“We got outplayed. Tennessee obviously had a lot of success. All you have to do is look at the numbers. In the second half they were 71 percent from the field and three-for-five from the three point line. They did a great job getting to the free throw line and converted 13-of-16 attempts in the second half. That’s the story of the game. When you give up those kinds of numbers, it’s hard to win.”

On Alabama’s defense:
“We didn’t have it tonight from a defensive standpoint. You have to give them credit. They had an answer for everything we wanted to do, whether it was zone, man or press. We weren’t able to generate the energy to press and be as effective as we needed to. Again, all the credit goes to Tennessee. ”

On Trevor Releford’s play:
“He’s battling. I feel bad for him. As a senior, I hate to see a guy not be able to have the success he deserves with what he’s meant to our program and everything he’s done. I’m proud of him and the battle and fight in him. He shows up night-in and night-out. We’ll need to get some guys, from a consistency standpoint, to step up.”

Senior Guard, #12 Trevor Releford

On communication with each other during the game:
“I felt like a couple of guys out there were communicating and trying to get energy. It has to come from everybody on the team, and that’s what we are working on.”

On how he motivates the team as the only senior:
“You can’t quit, you have to keep motivating. As a senior, I have to keep trying to lead like coach tells me every day. I have to stick with it and that’s what I have to try to do throughout the rest of the season.”

Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin 

Opening Statement: 
“It was a great performance by our guys in a tough place to play and against a tough team. Alabama is a team that rarely loses in this place and I just thought our guys did a great job of battling and keeping our composure. We went to our 1-3-1 defense and probably did it at the right time. They did a great job early in the second half, doing what they had done by getting to the basket and making plays. We pulled it out at the right time. It was a good thing I didn’t pull it out in the first half.

Rarely do you play games at this level on the road against a quality opponent of this magnitude and coaching staff. To win like this, these guys did a tremendous job of handling the press. The last two years, I thought we had lost the game against their press here – we just couldn’t handle their pressure and [we] turned the ball over [in the past]. Five turnovers against a team like this and against the press is a great job.”

On shooting like they did tonight:
“I told our guys you have to take shots. We felt like they would probably play zone most of the night. When shots present themselves, you have to take the shot. If you miss them, you miss them. I don’t want to harp on it, but I go back to the Florida game. It was a game where we just didn’t play well, but it wasn’t the case where we were like, ‘oh man what happened?’ I knew our guys could shoot but we just didn’t play well as a team. We got off to a slow start and never bounced back. The last game against Ole Miss, I thought our guys shot it well and tonight I thought our guys shot the three well. When [shots] present themselves, you have to knock them down. You have to allow [the game] to open up for our big guys to play.” 

On preparation:
“The thing we talked about as a team was focus. I said it earlier but, even though we have some experienced guys, it’s not like we had an experienced team that has been here for a long time across the board with five, six, seven [or] eight guys. I think more or less we are finding our way as a team and getting better. I just think we are getting better as a team, playing with confidence. Again, to win a game like this against this caliber opponent is big for us.”

Senior Guard #52 Jordan McRae

O the win at Alabama:
“It feels good. We played hard the whole game. I think that switching from a man to a 1-3-1 got [Alabama] off-balance a little bit. We really don’t like the 2-3 zone a whole lot, but we have been going over the 1-3-1 a lot in practice. I think that Coach [Martin] was surprised at how well it worked. I think that Alabama was surprised too. You never know when Coach Martin is going to throw something out there that we have never done. We knew that we were 3-19 here; you want to get a road win, no matter where it is. ”

On this year:
“I think that we have been doing well this year after our loses. We haven’t been dwelling on them too much. We have learned from them and realized that we have to play harder and smarter.”

Junior Guard #1 Josh Richardson

On the team’s mindset:
“We came in with a good mindset. We knew that we would have to come in and play tough and grind every possession out. That is what we did. We knew that coming into their house, it was going to be tough. We knew that they were going to make runs. They are a momentum team and were going to go on some five or six-point runs. We just had to stay calm and that is what we did.”

On what they did different in tonight’s game:
“In the 1-3-1 we have a lot of length and we shut down easy passes and didn’t let them get in the lane easily. It was nice to be able to switch it up a little bit. I think that we were so good at it tonight because we have been practicing it a lot the past couple of weeks. I think this is the first time we have started it in a game. I was surprised at how well it worked. It was a good thing for us and gave us a lot of momentum.”

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)

 



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