FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr. plays against Vanderbilt in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Nashville, Tenn. Lewis Jr. was selected to the Associated Press All-SEC first team announced Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

No. 9 seeded Crimson Tide take on No. 8 Vols in SEC hoops tourney

No. 9 seeded Alabama (16-15, 8-10 SEC) faces No. 8 seeded Tennessee (17-14, 9-9 SEC) at 1 p.m. in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday. The winner of the matchup will advance to the quarterfinals to play No. 1 seeded and regular season champion Kentucky on Friday.

Fans wait to enter Bridgestone Arena before an NCAA college basketball game between Georgia and Mississippi in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Matchup Notes

  • The matchup will mark the 16th time Alabama meets Tennessee in the SEC Tournament
  • Alabama leads the all-time series against Tennessee 79-70, which started in 1914
  • Alabama has been seeded No.9 or No.10 in six of the last seven SEC Tournaments
  • Tennessee has advanced to the SEC Championship in each of the last two seasons

The last meeting was a close one

Tennessee beat Alabama 69-68 in their last matchup on Feb. 4. Volunteers junior forward John Fulkerson led the team with 22 points and three rebounds in the game, but he wasn’t the only one who reached double-digit points.

The Volunteers had two others post double-digits. Guard Jordan Bowden scored 20 points and guard Yves Pons had 14.

The Vols, however, were unsuccessful in slowing Alabama’s leading scorer, guard Kira Lewis Jr., last time out.

Lewis posted 19 points, four assists and three rebounds against the Volunteers. The 6-foot-3 guard averages 18.5 points per game and 5.2 assists this season.

Players to Watch

Lewis is only the second player in Alabama basketball history to reach 1,000 points in two seasons.

Pons, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, has blocked a shot in every game this season. He leads the SEC with 2.4 blocks per game.

On the other side of the ball, Crimson Tide forward Herbert Jones also made the SEC All-Defensive team. He averages 6.4 rebounds per game, despite playing with a fractured left wrist for all of February.

Jones may play without a cast on Thursday after practicing without it on Wednesday, per Alabama beat reporter Michael Casagrande. This means Alabama fans may see some two-handed free throws from their lefty guard come Thursday.

Keeping Clean

Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, the NCAA released a statement  Wednesday advising that schools refrain from hosting public events in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and to protect players, employees and fans.

At this time, the SEC Tournament is still open to fans.

However, the SEC has taken measures to keep players, coaches, staff and attendees safe during the event. They have posted prevention signs throughout the Bridgestone Arena and sanitized the practice basketballs.

About Claire Nemethy

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