Vols lose to Alabama 58-48, now hope for NCAA tournament bid

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- Tennessee fought and clawed, but lost a 58-48 decision to Alabama in the SEC Quarterfinals at Bridgestone Arena on Friday afternoon.

The Vols (20-12) await their postseason fate, winning nine of their last 11 games. Alabama (21-11) advances to the SEC Semifinals, where it will play top seeded Florida (25-6) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Josh Richardson led Tennessee (20-11) with 16 points, his best scoring game since Jan. 19.

Jarnell Stokes posted his SEC-tying best 15th double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. With 15, Stokes has the most by a Vol since the legendary Bernard King had 19 in 1976-77.

Jordan McRae, who was mired in foul trouble all game, was held to nine points. It was the first time in 10 games he did not reach double-figures

The Crimson Tide (21-11) was led by Levi Randolph tallied 15. Trevor Releford added 14. Nick Jacobs, who hit two of the game's biggest shots, finished with six points and a team-best 12 rebounds.

Tennessee was done in by poor shooting as the Vols made just 32% from the field, including 7-of-29 in the second half. UT was only 5-of-23 from 3-point range for 21.7 percent.

An intense tight game was separated by two possessions for the first 30 minutes before a Jacobs jumper gave Alabama a 48-41 lead with 9:45 left in the second half. The lead expanded to nine on a follow-up by Jacobs 40 seconds later, 50-41.

Tennessee went 6:05 without scoring, and missed six consecutive field goals before Richardson converted a 3-point play with 6:12 left in the game. That cut the deficit to 50-44.

Stokes converted two free throws with 5:27 left to bring UT within four at 50-46. Those foul shots gave Stokes his double-double. After the Vols reeled off five points in a row, Randolph banked home a jumper with five minutes left, making it 52-46.

Alabama's lead went to eight (54-46) as Rodney Cooper made two free throws with 3:06 on the clock. Stokes came away with a slam dunk off a Richardson with 2:11 left, to cut it to 54-48.
Three free throws by Randolph in the final 1:32 iced the game for the Tide.

Richardson did his best to keep the Vols close early in the second half as he had nine of Tennessee's first 11 points.

Alabama took a 41-36 lead on a 3-point play by Levi Randolph with 14:30 left in the second. A 3-pointer by Trevor Lacey pushed the Bama advantage to six, 44-38.

Tennessee came out strong to start the second half, as Richardson hit two jumpers to tie the game at 31.

Alabama led at halftime, 31-27 as the score was never separated by more than five points over the first 20 minutes. Releford, who hit a 3-pointer as the half expired, led all scorers with 12 points.

Back-to-back buckets by Kenny Hall finished nine consecutive points for the Vols as UT took a 13-8 lead with 14:33 left in the first half. Alabama missed seven shots in a row and was held without a field goal for a span of 5:42 as Tennessee took a 15-10 lead with 13:38 left in the half.

Alabama took an 18-17 lead on a driving lay-up by Releford for eight minutes left in the first half, but McRae responded with his second 3-pointer of the game to regain a UT lead. The score was tied three times over the next six minutes.

The Vols posted a 64-58 win over the Gators in the only regular-season meeting between the teams on Feb. 26 in Knoxville.

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