- Advertisement -

Tennessee Basketball: Defensive wings carry Vols to huge win at Alabama

- Advertisement -

There is no way on paper Tennessee Basketball should have won this game. The Vols were facing a top 25 team on the road, Dalton Knecht got in foul trouble, and they shot 36 percent from the field and 30 percent from three. Somehow, though, UT beat the No. 14 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 81-74.

So what led the Vols to victory in a de facto SEC Regular Season championship elimination game? Well, while Knecht did still have 13 points, and while it did come down to wings, it came down to a specific type of wing: defensive specialists. Enter Josiah-Jordan James and Jahmai Mashack.

Coming off the bench, Mashack caused the two turning points late in the game to put Tennessee Basketball in control. With the Vols trailing 62-60 just before the six-minute mark in the second half, Mashack hit a three to give them the lead. They never relinquished it.

Mashack then intercepted a pass that led to a Jonas Aidoo layup to put UT up by three. Up 65-64, Mashack hit another jumper to keep the Vols in control. He finished with eight points, a block, a steal and six rebounds while shooting 3-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from three.

However, the person who starts in front of Mashack was even a bigger star. Despite struggling offensively all year, Josiah-Jordan James has always been a reliable defensive specialist and distributor. He was that again in this one with a steal, 13 rebounds and three assists.

- Advertisement -

On the other side of the ball, though, James was the star in this one too. He finished with 11 points and went 3-of-6 from three. With just over two minutes to go and the Vols clinging to a 72-70 lead, Knecht drew a double team and kicked it out to Zakei Zeigler who dished it to to Mashack who dished it to James, who hit the dagger three.

Simply put, Mashack and James were the stars of this one on both sides of the ball. They were the ones responsible for Rick Barnes’ team being able to handle Alabama’s tempo under Nate Oats, and they actually got things rolling for everybody else, particularly Knecht, who had a poor shooting night.

Now, Knecht being Knecht, he still scored 13 points. Zeigler led the team with 18 points, going 4-of-14 from three. Jonas Aidoo dropped double figures as well, continuing UT’s undefeated record in conference play when he hits that mark. In general, other factors were involved. Mashack and James mattered most, though.

Now, Tennessee Basketball, ranked No. 4 in both polls, is 23-6 overall and 13-3 in the SEC. They will visit the South Carolina Gamecocks Wednesday in what will be the de facto SEC Regular Season championship game. It’s a revenge game for the Vols too. Alabama, meanwhile, visits the Florida Gators Tuesday.

- Advertisement -

Latest YouTube Video

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *