TAMPA — Facing an Alabama team that had beaten them in Knoxville just five days earlier, the Tennessee Volunteers jumped to a 23-9 lead Friday and never let up, cruising to an 86-62 victory in the SEC tournament quarterfinals at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tennessee (20-11), the East's top seed, came out of halftime on a 17-0 run, and the big margin allowed coach Bruce Pearl to empty his bench, with no Vol playing more than 31 minutes.
Fifteen players got in and 10 scored, showcasing a depth that comes in handy with the prospect of three games in three days.
"We're going to keep them fresh," Pearl said. "One of the things about our team, over the years, because we're committed to the depth, you're able to win championships. … I like to think we have too many weapons."
Forward Tyler Smith led the Vols with 22 points, and guard J.P. Prince, who had a steal and a dunk in the first 25 seconds, had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Tennessee had 20 assists while Alabama had just four, and the Vols dominated in transition, outscoring the Crimson Tide 20-2 on fastbreaks.
Alabama (18-14) got 13 points from guard Mikhail Torrance, and 6-foot-9 freshman forward JaMychal Green had 10 points and eight rebounds.
"We've not played enough Saturdays and not played enough Sundays," said Pearl, whose team hasn't won more than one game in an SEC tournament since 1991.