No. 20 Tennessee at Alabama
When: Thursday at 8 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 9-8, 1-3 SEC; Tennessee 12-4, 1-3 SEC
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 93.3 FM
February 25, 2016. For Alabama women’s basketball fans, this day is one of the most important days in program history, since it marks the day Alabama broke a 42-game losing streak to Tennessee.
Coming into the game, Alabama was on a four-game overall losing streak, including a heart-breaking loss to Arkansas. It welcomed in a Tennessee team that just six games earlier won by 28 points.
It was Alabama’s senior night, and the second quarter was the difference maker, as the Crimson Tide outscored the Lady Vols 13-3 in the 15-minute period, winning by a final score of 54-46.
“I remember Nikki Hegstetter, just the big plays defensively and her energy and leadership,” coach Kristy Curry said. “That will be a real moment that I’ll always remember.”
It was the first time since March of 1984 the Crimson Tide had beaten the Lady Vols and the first time ever having beaten the Lady Vols at home, earning a plaque in Coleman Coliseum that is named “Rocky Topped.”
The win also started a four-game winning streak over the Vols, which Curry’s squad hopes to extend to five on Thursday at 8 p.m. when the two meet again.
Since the start of SEC play, the two teams have mirrored each other record wise — winning the opener but dropping the last three — but the results haven’t been the same.
Tennessee has lost its last three games by a combined eight points, while Alabama has struggled, losing by a combined 40.
Alabama has struggled since losing a close game at South Carolina. In the first of the two games since, the Crimson Tide turned the ball over 25 times in a loss to Auburn and was blown out at Texas A&M by 27 points.
“Coach tells us after every game ‘after 12 o’clock midnight just let it go, whether we win or lose,’” forward Shaquera Wade said. “I think we just need to get focused on ourselves and get better every day.
The Lady Vols do a nice job of forcing their opponents into making mistakes, as they force 19 turnovers a game. Alabama struggles in that category, turning the ball over nearly 17 times a game.
Tennessee is also the second-best rebounding teams in the SEC, averaging 40.1 boards a game, while Alabama brings down 35 a game.
“You got to defend the glass,” Curry said. “We know against this Tennessee team and any team in our league we have to rebound the ball better. We’ve got to take care of the turnover margin… Turnovers have haunted us with our inexperience.”