By Drew Hill Special to the Tuscaloosa News
Coach Kristy Curry signals the next play during the Power of Pink game on Sunday. Alabama will face Tennessee on Thursday. [Photo/Sam MacDonald}That date featured the Crimson Tide’s 54-46 win over Tennessee — a team that would go on to reach the Elite Eight — and it gave coach Kristy Curry’s team a benchmark victory in her tenure at UA, while also making history. Alabama’s team from a season ago did something that even a former Final Four team had failed to do, it defeated Tennessee.
“It was one of those ‘firsts’ that we’ve done.” Curry said. “I think it was 1984 (the last time defeating Tennessee), and that was the year I graduated high school. But that was a different team, and credit to those kids.”
Historical value of a second-straight victory over the Lady Vols aside, Alabama just needs to win. Dropping five-straight conference matchups was not what Curry’s squad had in mind late in the conference season, especially after starting 3-4. Losses to the SEC’s bottom-tier teams in Florida and Vanderbilt have been the most concerning part of the Crimson Tide’s poor stretch, however, UA entered on a four game skid last season before upsetting the Volunteers.
“You try and go back and look at the personnel that we have and they have, and the things we did well, and the thing we could improve on in (the last) game,” Curry said. “I think as coaches its more about the moment, and you watch every game that Tennessee has played in the league this year, and you add it in with (last year).”
In the moment, Alabama is struggling to rebound the basketball. UA has been outrebounded in its last two games, including a -20 rebounding margin against the Gators. If Alabama has any plans of pulling the upset, it will need drastic improvement on the boards.
Tennessee is currently the No. 2 rebounding team in the conference, averaging 41.7 rebounds per game. The Volunteers are also home to the SEC’s No. 4 rebounder in forward Mercedes Russell. In the loss one season ago, Russell’s double-double wasn’t enough to keep the Crimson Tide from grabbing 45 total rebounds with 12 on the offensive end.
“Rebounding has been a big thing that we’ve talked about in practice,” Alabama forward Ashley Williams said. “We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds to Florida, and against Texas A&M.”
On the offensive end the Lady Vols and the Crimson Tide are led by junior shooting guards. Diamond DeShields averages 18 points per game for the Volunteers, while Alabama’s Meoshonti Knight trails her with only 12.6.
Another upset victory would ensure UA stays out of last place in the SEC.
Alabama Women’s Basketball
Tennessee at Alabama
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 15-10 (3-9), Tennessee 16-9 (7-5)
Radio: 100.1 FM