Show Me My SEC Tournament Opponent, 2020-21: Alabama

 Lineup notes

Alabama:

  • Nine new starting lineups this year, but they recently reverted to the fifth one they tried out: Shackleford, Petty, Primo (questionable due to injury), Jones, and Bruner.
  • If Primo can’t play, I’d imagine they start Keon Ellis in his place.

Tennessee:

  • No Fulkerson in all likelihood, which means (probably) that you’re looking at the SmallVols. Vescovi, Johnson, Springer, James, and Pons.
  • Uros Plavsic played five minutes against Florida yesterday. He played three minutes total from February 10 to March 11. Incredible! The SECRET FLORIDA PLAYBOOK finally became real.
  • Tennessee hasn’t played a game without Fulkerson all season, of course, but the closest analogs would be games where he’s played fewer than 20 minutes. In those games, Tennessee gave Pons 30+ minutes of action, gave one of Nkamhoua/Anosike around five minutes, and occasionally went super-small with James at the 5. I don’t know if they can afford to go that far, but don’t be stunned if it does happen.

Key matchups

Herbert Jones vs. Josiah-Jordan James (and Yves Pons). Pretty easy to defend the SEC Player of the Year, obviously. Jones is going to beat and bang and abuse anyone who guards him, so Tennessee has to be ready for the potential of having to switch players on and off just so they don’t get fatigued. The best case defensively is to try and draw Jones out to 20+ feet to defend threes, which, if nothing else, gets him away from the paint.

Jaden Shackleford vs. Santiago Vescovi. Shackleford is a much better defensive player this year than last, so Vescovi’s job will be harder there, but I have to say that it’s pretty easy to say the same thing about Vescovi. He’s taken a significant leap forward defensively from last season, and Tennessee needs him to stick with Shack wire-to-wire.

John Petty vs. Keon Johnson and/or Jaden Springer. Petty, who is approximately 43 years old, is one of the best all-around players out there. Tennessee can’t let him get loose from downtown.

Three predictions

  1. Tennessee wins the turnover battle again;
  2. Alabama attempts 28+ threes;
  3. Alabama 71, Tennessee 69.

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