Vols loss could be costly for NCAA bid

Vols UT Tennessee Volunteers

Nashville, TN-Tennessee fought and clawed, but lost a 58-48 decision to Alabama in the SEC Quarterfinals at Bridgestone Arena on Friday afternoon. The Vols (20-12) await their postseason fate, winning nine of their last 11 games. Alabama (21-11) advances to the SEC Semifinals, where it will play top seeded Florida (25-6) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Josh Richardson led Tennessee with 16 points — his best scoring game since Jan. 19.
Jarnell Stokes posted his SEC-tying best 15th double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. With 15, Stokes has the most by a Vol since the legendary Bernard King had 19 in 1976-77.
Jordan McRae, who was mired in foul trouble all game, was held to nine points. It was the first time in 10 games he did not reach double-figures
The Crimson Tide was led by Levi Randolph tallied 15. Trevor Releford added 14. Nick Jacobs, who hit two of the game’s biggest shots, finished with six points and a team-best 12 rebounds.
Tennessee was done in by poor shooting as the Vols made just 32.1 from the field, including 7-of-29 in the second half. UT was only 5-of-23 from 3-point range for 21.7 percent.
An intense tight game was separated by two possessions for the first 30 minutes before a Jacobs jumper gave Alabama a 48-41 lead with 9:45 left in the second half. The lead expanded to nine on a follow-up by Jacobs 40 seconds later, 50-41.
Tennessee went 6:05 without scoring, and missed six consecutive field goals before Richardson converted a 3-point play with 6:12 left in the game. That cut the deficit to 50-44.
Stokes converted two free throws with 5:27 left to bring UT within four at 50-46. Those foul shots gave Stokes his double-double. After the Vols reeled off five points in a row, Randolph banked home a jumper with five minutes left, making it 52-46.
Alabama’s lead went to eight (54-46) as Rodney Cooper made two free throws with 3:06 on the clock. Stokes came away with a slam dunk off a Richardson with 2:11 left, to cut it to 54-48.
Three free throws by Randolph in the final 1:32 iced the game for the Tide.