AP photo by Wade Payne|
Alabama's Richard Hendrix, who prepped at Athens High, drives against Tennessee's Wayne Chism during the second half of the Vols' 69-66 overtime win on Wednesday night in Knoxville. Hendrix had 10 points.
Tide falls to Vols in OT
By Elizabeth A. Davis
Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE — As Tennessee went nearly six minutes without scoring against No. 25 Alabama, Chris Lofton saw his team's chances of making the NCAA tournament starting to fade.
The Volunteers and Lofton kept shooting and forcing turnovers and eventually rallied to beat the Crimson Tide 69-66 in overtime on Wednesday.
Lofton scored 20 points and JaJuan Smith added 16 for Tennessee (19-9, 7-6 Southeastern Conference), which improved to 15-0 at home this season.
The Vols are hoping to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, despite winning only one game on the road this season and none in the SEC.
The Crimson Tide (19-8, 6-7), also trying to stay in the NCAA mix, came back from nine points down in the second half but struggled with a season-high 26 turnovers. Alabama had won seven straight over Tennessee.
Tennessee went back ahead 53-52 on Smith's 3 with 8:20 to go, but then the Vols didn't score
again until Lofton hit a 3 with 2:43 left.
"I was going, 'Please just don't let us lose. Just let us find a way to win.' That's what was going through my mind," Lofton said. "I thought the NCAA tournament is on the line right here."
Tennessee has three regular-season games and the SEC tournament left to pad its resume.
"I don't know if it's enough. We want to work to get better. We want to go on the road and see if we can win," coach Bruce Pearl said.
"We've played well on the road — not recently."
After Lofton's 3, Ramar Smith scored again for Tennessee to tie it at 58. Lofton made a pair of
free throws to put the Vols up again.
Then Alabama's Ronald Steele forced overtime by tying it at 60 when he scored with 7.4 seconds left in regulation and Lofton's shot at the buzzer was way off.
"We had enough chances. We had leads. We had the ball, and we needed to make plays and we didn't," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said.
In overtime, Alabama scored the first four points, but Lofton hit a 3 with 2:58 remaining.
Tennessee didn't trail again, but it was a frantic ending.
Alabama's Jermareo Davidson was fouled going for a rebound with 9.6 seconds left and made both free throws to cut it to 67-66, but Alabama didn't foul afterward and Tennessee's Duke Crews dunked at the other end to seal the win.
"Prior to that, it was foul anyone but Lofton, so there was some confusion. They were instructed to foul, but after hearing don't foul Lofton for five minutes, there was confusion and that's OK," Gottfried said.
Reserve Mykal Riley led the Tide with 15 points, while Athens High graduate Richard Hendrix added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Davidson finished with 15 rebounds.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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