Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Alabama races to 78-50 win over streaking No. 15 Tennessee

Leave a comment

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama big man Donta Hall started the game with a dunk, and did the same to open the second half.

It was that kind of night for both No. 15 Tennessee and the Crimson Tide.

Hall had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Collin Sexton scored 16 points to lead Alabama to a 78-50 victory Saturday night over the Volunteers, putting a big chill on the Southeastern Conference’s hottest team.

“I saw a level of concentration and tenacity and hunger and feeling unafraid to make mistakes,” Tide coach Avery Johnson said. “And when we did, we just bounced back.

“The focus was there. You could see it during all the timeouts. They were ready to play.”

Alabama (16-10, 7-5) thoroughly dominated the Vols (18-6, 8-4) around the basket and cashed in on a number of fast-break chances

Hall made 8 of 10 field goals and blocked three shots. Tennessee had no answer to Sexton’s quick darts to the basket, and the freshman also had four assists.

He took the ball all the way for layups after a couple of defensive rebounds, the first time sending the ball behind his back to avoid a defender on his way to the basket.

John Petty had 14 points and made 3 of 4 3-point attempts for the Tide. Alabama dominated the second half, 41-23.

Tennessee had only one scorer in double digits. Grant Williams scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half. Vols coach Rick Barnes said he was “baffled” by what he called “far and away the worst game we’ve played” coming off a 61-59 road win over No. 24 Kentucky.

“Rough night. I think that with this group, I don’t think I felt that we could be that bad,” Barnes said. “Not to take anything from Alabama because I thought they did pretty much whatever they wanted to do.”

Alabama seemed to be operating at a different speed after leading by 10 at the break, opening the second half with three dunks and a fast-break layup.

“We were just running,” Sexton said. “I feel like when we’re running, we’re just at our best.”

The Vols came in on a six-game winning streak and hadn’t allowed any of those opponents more than 63 points.

Alabama topped that with 10:20 left on, appropriately, Hall’s dunk.

The Tide outscored Tennessee 50-18 in the paint.

The Vols made just 16 of 58 shots (27.6 percent). Alabama made 31 of 56 for a 57.1-percent clip and seven of those were dunks.

“Defensively, as bad as we had played all year long, obviously,” Barnes said.

BIG PICTURE

Tennessee: Fell two games behind Auburn in the SEC race and would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Tigers. Previous five losses had come by a combined 30 points, including two overtime defeats.

Alabama: Has won five straight over Top 25 teams since an early loss to then-No. 14 Minnesota. Continues to be up and down, handling top teams like Florida and the Vols and getting upset other times

PAINT BY NUMBERS

Much of Alabama’s offense came via dunks and drives on a 5-of-14 night from 3-point range.

“We didn’t want to settle for jumpers because we hadn’t been shooting it well,” Johnson said. “So we tried to play from the basket back out to the 3-point line. Give our guards credit for penetrating. Our bigs finished inside and fortunately when we drove we were in the right spots for most of the night.”

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

Leave a comment

Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

Al Bello/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.