KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Perhaps it was the two feet the official said John Petty shuffled.

Perhaps it was the 15 feet from the free throw line to the basket.

Regardless of the measurement, the result was the same — a painful road loss that the Alabama basketball has a chance to win but fell just short as No. 3 Tennessee won its 12th consecutive game, edging the Crimson Tide 71-68.

“I was proud of our guys, especially in the second half,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “But we didn’t get a stop when we had a chance. And we’ve got to make our free throws.”

The second half was fraught with drama with each team making plays and losing opportunities in the final minute. The Vols took a 69-66 lead with 51 seconds remaining as Donta Hall blocked an Admiral Schofield shot but Grant Williams grabbed the rebound and hit the putback.

Hall answered on the other end with two free throws to bring the margin back to one. Those two made free throws were Alabama’s only fully successful trip in a half that saw the Crimson Tide (11-6, 2-3 SEC) make just four of 13 shots from the line.

UA did get a crucial stop on the next possession as Hall drew a charging foul on Williams. That play gave Alabama the ball with 11.5 seconds remaining.

“Kira (Lewis) had the ball and the play was to get the ball to Donta on a slip off the screen,” Johnson said. “(Tennessee) didn’t bite on that so the second option was John Petty.”

That was a solid second option as Petty had already matched his career high of 30 points, including six of 10 on 3-pointers.

A final shot attempt by Petty never happened. The exchange between Lewis and Petty wasn’t perfect and while Petty said afterwards he felt that contact had knocked him off balance, the call was traveling. That gave UT the ball with 3.2 seconds remaining and Lamonte Turner scored the two clinching free throws for the Vols.

Alabama started slowly and trailed by 12 points, 44-32, at the half. But the Crimson Tide came out of the locker room with a 13-0 run and took a 45-44 lead on a Herb Jones layup with 16:37 to play.

“I told my coaches that I wasn’t going to call a timeout because I wanted to see how we would respond,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “But we never responded so I had to call one anyway.”

The two teams were back and forth until the dramatic final minutes.

“As much as I hate to say it, we were fortunate to win this game,” Barnes said. “But we needed a game like this.”

Petty’s 30 points led all scorers. Hall added a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Williams led Tennessee (16-1, 5-0 SEC) with 21 points.

Alabama will return home Tuesday to face No. 18 Ole Miss.

Reach Cecil Hurt at or 205-722-0225.



No. 3 Tennessee 71, Alabama 68

Alabama (11-6)
Hall 7-10 2-2 16, Ingram 1-3 1-4 3, Jones 1-5 0-2 2, Lewis 4-10 1-2 12, Mack 0-4 0-0 0, Reese 0-4 2-3 2, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Petty 11-18 2-5 30, A.Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Norris 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 25-59 8-18 68.

Tennessee (16-1)
Alexander 3-5 0-0 6, Pons 2-2 0-0 4, Williams 8-17 5-7 21, Schofield 4-17 3-3 12, Bone 5-10 0-1 10, Fulkerson 0-2 0-0 0, Bowden 5-7 0-1 12, Turner 1-4 4-4 6. Totals 28-64 12-16 71.
Halftime: Tennessee 44-32. 3-Point Goals: Alabama 10-26 (Petty 6-10, Lewis 3-6, Norris 1-3, Ingram 0-1, Reese 0-2, Jones 0-2, Mack 0-2), Tennessee 3-12 (Bowden 2-3, Schofield 1-4, Alexander 0-1, Bone 0-1, Williams 0-1, Turner 0-2). Fouled Out: Williams. Rebounds: Alabama 36 (Hall 12), Tennessee 33 (Schofield 11). Assists: Alabama 13 (Ingram 5), Tennessee 16 (Bone 7). Total Fouls: Alabama 20, Tennessee 18. A: 21,957 (21,678).