NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UT Sports) – Productive offensive outings from freshmen Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer were not enough Saturday, as Tennessee fell to No. 6 Alabama in the SEC Tournament semifinals at Bridgestone Arena, 73-68.
Tennessee’s SEC All-Freshman Team duo of Johnson and Springer led the way offensively for the Vols (18-8) with 20 and 18 points, respectively. Santiago Vescovi added 11 points with three made 3-pointers.
SEC Player of the Year Herbert Jones led the way for the Tide (23-6), pouring in 21 points—15 of which came in the second half—and grabbing 13 rebounds. Jahvon Quinerly contributed 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting.
After jumping out to an early lead, Tennessee was in control for much of the first half and built its lead to as many as 15 points early in the second half at 48-33 on a Vescovi three-pointer.
Facing its largest deficit of the game, Alabama responded immediately with a 14-0 run that cut the Vols’ lead to one. The teams went back and forth until Alabama took its first lead since the opening minute of the game at the 5:26 mark.
Trailing by four points with less than a minute to go, a three from Yves Pons brought Tennessee back within one point at 69-68. On the ensuing possession, Davonte Gaines blocked Jones’ shot at the rim, got the rebound and was fouled, but was unable to convert on his two free throw attempts.
The Tide closed out the game with free throws from Quinerly and Keon Ellis on the other end.
After shooting 47.1 percent from the field and forcing 12 Alabama turnovers in the first half, Tennessee took a 40-31 lead into halftime. Johnson was the story of the first half, totaling 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting.
After the Tide scored the game’s opening basket, Tennessee went on a 13-2 run to build an early nine-point lead. Alabama cut the lead down to as few as two points at 23-21, but the Vols immediately responded with a 13-3 run that put them in control heading into the second half.
Up Next: Tennessee will learn its NCAA Tournament seeding Sunday evening. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on CBS.