No. 10 Tennessee topples newly minted No. 1 Alabama despite missing two starters

Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi each scored 15 points and No. 10 Tennessee defeated newly minted No. 1 Alabama 68-59 Wednesday night.

The Crimson Tide (22-4, 12-1 SEC) played their first game as the top-ranked team since the 2002-03 season, leading just once in the early stages and committing 19 turnovers.

Unlike football, when Tennessee fans stormed their home field after the 52-49 win over No. 3 Alabama in October, this sold-out crowd stayed put when it was over. “Rocky Top” sang loudly as the Volunteers (20-6, 9-5) ended a two-game tumble.

Alabama was the last Power 5 men’s team to lose a conference game that season. The Tide peaked at No. 1 in The Associated Press’s latest poll on Monday, but its only lead in the game was 12-11.

Jonas Aidoo had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Tennessee.

Brandon Miller led Alabama with 15 points, Jaden Bradley added 14 and Nimari Burnett had 11.

Plavsic connected from a three-point game to give Tennessee a 56-47 lead with just over five minutes into the game.

Vescovi threw a lob that Olivier Nkamhoua caught in the air and followed with a slam to put Tennessee 19-15 ahead at 7:42 in the first half. At the break it was tied at 29.


Alabama: Alabama is 14-13 against top 25 teams in Nate Oats’ five years as coach.

Tennessee: A few smashing losses cost the Vols just four places in this week’s poll. … Tennessee has won six of their last seven games against top 10 teams. … Earlier this season, the Vols lost at No. 9 Arizona.


Alabama: Big man Charles Bediako was tied with a “minor knee injury” sustained in Saturday’s win against Auburn. He could play in the game. … Early in the game, Brandon Miller is the only Division I player to score 470 points, grab 200 rebounds and throw 75 3-pointers. … Zeigler was matched against Miller’s team in an AAU game a few years back when he caught the eye of Vols coach Rick Barnes.

Tennessee: Two starters — Josiah-Jordan James (ankle) and Julian Phillips (hip flexor) — were struggling with injuries and missed the game. … Six of Tennessee’s seven playoffs are against teams in the top half of the SEC. … How special was the game on Wednesday night? More than 20,000 Vols fans turned the Thompson-Boling Arena into an orange and white chessboard, something that’s only done once a season. … Sophomore Jahmai Mashack made his first career start.


Alabama: The Crimson Tide plays Georgia at home on Saturday. The two teams have yet to meet this season.

Tennessee: The Vols travel to Kentucky on Saturday and are focused on avenging a 63-56 loss a month ago.

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