(Photo via Austin Perryman/Tennessee Athletics)
The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide rolls into Knoxville Wednesday night for the third top 10 tilt in Thompson-Boling Arena history.
Tennessee is checkering Thompson-Boling Arena for the top 10 rivalry matchup, marking the first time the Vols have checkered the arena this season.
big game calls for a big-game atmosphere
• be early
• be loud
• be color-coordinated
⬜️🟧 https://t.co/ZiLwrLnT2v pic.twitter.com/jYWWyGpEaG
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) February 13, 2023
The Vols last checkered Thompson-Boling Arena for their 2021-22 regular season finale against Arkansas. Tennessee knocked off the 14th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks, 78-74, to cap off a perfect season at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee had last Checkered TBA for the 2017 game against North Carolina.
Tennessee is 11-2 at home this season with unranked losses against Kentucky and Missouri. The Vols are 2-1 all-time in Checker TBA games and are looking to elicit more magic and a great home court environment against fierce rival Alabama.
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Alabama is playing as well as any team in the country as its No. 1 ranking shows. The Crimson Tide are 12-0 in conference play with their lone blemish in the last month being a blowout loss at Oklahoma in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
No. 10 Tennessee, on the other hand, is struggling entering the highly anticipated matchup. The Vols lost their last two games on buzzer beaters and have dropped three-of-four games in February.
Before DeAndre Gholston hit a near halfcourt shot to beat Tennessee, the Vols completed a 17-point second half comeback that left Rick Barnes positive after the game.
“I felt the same way I about it, where I just know that we played, showed a lot of fight,” Barnes said Monday. “Had to overcome a lot with guys being out. Different guys coming in, having to do some things. It certainly gave us something we can build on.”
Despite its recent struggles it should be a raucous home crowd against No. 1 Alabama.
“They are the No. 1 team in the SEC and No. 1 team in the nation,” sophomore Jonas Aidoo said. “We are going to try and get that one for the home crowd.”
Tip-off between the Vols and Crimson Tide is at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday night. ESPN2 is broadcasting the game.