KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee men's basketball team held visiting Alabama without a field goal for the final four-plus minutes of regulation and five extra overtime minutes.
It didn't matter.
The Southeastern Conference-leading Crimson Tide held on in regulation and made all 10 of their overtime free throws Saturday to outlast the Volunteers 65-60 in front of a season-high crowd of 21,948 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"We didn't execute the right plays and we didn't get stops," said UT guard Cameron Tatum, who scored 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting. "Those are the big things to win key ballgames, especially games like that."
After Andrew Steele's floater at the 4:29 mark of the second half made it 55-49, UT (15-8, 5-3) scored the final six points in regulation, including a tying basket by freshman forward Tobias Harris with 42 seconds left. The Vols got the game's last possession after forcing a turnover.
Harris totaled 19 points and 11 rebounds.
"We told Tobias to go make a play," said UT associate head coach Tony Jones, who went 5-3 in coach Bruce Pearl's SEC suspension.
But Harris caught an entry pass into the post too far from the basket along the baseline and had to get rid of it after Alabama double-teamed him. Melvin Goins missed a 3-pointer, and Brian Williams' tip fell off the rim.
"I got it too far out, started backing him down and Skylar [McBee]'s man came over," Harris said. "I wanted to kick it out, but I don't think he was ready for me to pass it to him. We ended up getting Mel an open look. It's just how things happen."
Alabama (15-7, 7-1) led by 12 points in the first half and by 11 at halftime. The Tide scored 28 of their 38 points in the paint and shot 67 percent (16-of-24) from the field.
"That just can't happen," Jones said. "Our guys didn't come out with the energy defensively. [Alabama] got some run-outs in the first half when our guys uncharacteristically didn't get back."
Tony Mitchell poured in a career-high 24 points off the bench and added six rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals for the Tide. Freshman point guard Trevor Releford added 13 points, and star forward JaMychal Green scored eight of his 14 points from the foul line.
UT ratcheted up its second-half defense and held the Tide to 28 percent shooting, but Mitchell scored nine of Alabama's 17 second-half points.
"They're rugged -- they're tough defensively," McBee said. "But I think we're tough defensively, too. We showed [that] there in the second half."
UT played without leading scorer Scotty Hopson (sprained ankle) for the second consecutive game. The Vols didn't need him in a win at Auburn on Thursday, but his offense could have helped against the Tide's league-leading defense.
"Not having Scotty doesn't soften the blow," Jones said. "We pride ourselves on having depth. Heck, we had an opportunity to win the game in regulation."
"It's more difficult when you lose a player like Scotty Hopson," said McBee, who scored all nine of his points on 3-pointers.
"You're talking about 15-16 points a game -- that's tough to make up. We all have to step up. I thought we did it tonight; we just couldn't come up with a play."
Alabama scored 14 points in transition and added 22 points off 18 UT turnovers. The Vols' only baskets in overtime were Williams' tip-in to open the scoring and a Harris dunk late with Alabama guarding the 3-point line.
"It was very physical," Tatum said. "We expected that; we knew that coming into the game. That's supposed to be our motto; that's supposed to be what we do to other teams. They did what they wanted at times, and we responded at times."
Added McBee: "We had a lot of fans here and we were in position there to win at the end of the game and couldn't come up with a play. It's tough."
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...
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