Down 15, No. 6 Alabama rallies past Tennessee in SEC semis

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Alabama's Keon Ellis (14) and Herbert Jones (1) leave the court after Alabama beat Tennessee in an NCAA college basketball game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bad as Alabama looked while trailing by 15 points, Herbert Jones still believed the Crimson Tide could shift momentum by stringing baskets and stops together.

The Southeastern Conference’s best player had a huge role in achieving both goals, and his teammates joined in to help them reach the doorstep of their biggest prize in 30 years.

Jones scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and No. 6 Alabama rallied from a big deficit in the final 17 minutes to beat Tennessee 73-68 Saturday in the SEC Tournament semifinals.

“At halftime, we decided to just come out and play our brand of basketball,” said Jones, chosen this week as the league’s top defender and player. “We came out and competed on the defensive end and that led to our offense.”

Jahvon Quinerly added 19 points, including two free throws with 15.5 seconds left, to help the Crimson Tide hang on.

“We came out a little bit slow, down nine going into the half and we fought our way back slowly but surely," Quinerly said.

Top-seeded Alabama (23-6) will face LSU, a 78-71 upset winner over No. 8 Arkansas, on Sunday in the championship in search of its first SEC Tournament title since 1991.

Tennessee (18-8) awaits an NCAA Tournament seeding on Sunday.