Mizzou Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Mizzou Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, MO. on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. Zach Bland/Mizzou Athletics

Tennessee continues its journey through SEC play on Saturday night when it welcomes Alabama to Thompson-Boling Arena. 

The Vols will be looking to carry the momentum of their win against No. 12 Missouri into the matchup. The Crimson Tide opened up SEC play with a win of their own against Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa. 

The Crimson Tide are 6-3 on the season with tough wins over Providence, Furman and UNLV while averaging 77 points scored per game.

Compared to Tennessee’s other opponents this season, the Crimson Tide will bring a more spaced offense that will utilize all five players on the court outside of the paint which is something Tennessee hasn’t seen much this year.

Alabama averages nine made three-pointers per game and shoots an average of 41% from the field on the season. The Crimson Tide shoot an average of 15 free throws per game but struggle to make their opponents pay, only making 67% of their free throws. 

“They play the fourth-fastest pace in the country, ” Tennessee assistant coach Kim English said. “They shoot about 37 three-pointers a game and can stretch the floor. It is the college version of what the Houston Rockets are. It’s gonna be a great challenge for our guys, seeing how they respond from executing a game-plan at Missouri to a completely different attack against Alabama tomorrow.”

Alabama will need its best players to step up to another level offensively if they want to beat a Tennessee defense that is holding its opponents to an average of 52 points per game, just 36% shooting from the field and 27% from behind the three-point line. 

The Tide are led by a trio of high-scoring guards in Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly and John Petty. 

Leading the way for Alabama’s offense is Shackelford and Quinerly who both average 13 points per game in the young season. Shackelford is a physical guard who can clean the glass and averages five rebounds per game. Quinerly is more finesse as he leads the Crimson Tide in assists with 29 and also shoots 50% from the field which leads the team. 

Petty has also been an integral part of his team's success as he averages 12 points and five rebounds while also being second on the team in assists with 20. 

The X-factor for the Crimson Tide, however, is senior forward Herbert Jones. Jones averages 12 points per game while shooting a team-leading 46% from behind the three-point line. He also leads the team in rebounds with 57 and averages 6.3 per game. Jones also gets it done on the defensive side of the ball. He has 12 steals and eight blocks on the season, which puts him second on the team in both categories behind transfer forward Jordan Bruner. 

“He’s a hard-playing point forward, ” English said. “He for them is what Yves Pons is for us defensively. He can play point guard and create matchup problems all over the court. For the first time in his career, he's shooting the ball well from behind the arc. He’s being selective but he’s shooting 46% from behind the arc. For him to play only 10 minutes the last game against Ole Miss and for them to still dominate just shows how much his leadership does for them.” 

Defensively the Crimson Tide are holding opponents to 70 points per game, 42% shooting from the field and 31.9% shooting from behind the three-point line. 

Tennessee will look to its plethora of offensive options to exploit the Crimson Tide and their lackluster defense. 

Alabama averages 13 turnovers per game while Tennessee forces 18, look for the Vols to turn their defense into offense against an already turnover-prone Crimson Tide team. 

Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is set for 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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