Alabama will enter Saturday's contest with Tennessee as the surprise leader in the SEC with a 6-1 league record.

The Crimson Tide will enter Thompson-Boling Arena on a four-game winning streak after beating Mississippi State 75-61 Wednesday night.

"We got off to a good start," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "I thought our defense carried us early. They switched to zone and we kind of hit a low there. I don't know how long we went without scoring a basket, but we were able to get to the free-throw line then, and closer to the half we got some shots off to get us a good lead through the half."

Sophomore Tony Mitchell led the Crimson Tide with a career-high 23 points against the Bulldogs.

"We knew MSU was going to come out fighting," Mitchell said. "They fought the whole game, so we prepared ourselves to stick it out and face adversity and fight through."

Mitchell is the team's leading scorer on the year, averaging 14.5 points per game. The sophomore was a member of the SEC All-Freshman Team last season, after averaging 9.2 points per game.

Alabama's other big man, JaMychal Green, is averaging close to a double-double on the year, with 15.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said he believes the Crimson Tide are the best defensive team in the SEC, and the statistics back up Pearl's belief. Alabama leads the league in scoring defense, giving up just 57 points per game.

One of the reasons for the team's success on the defensive end is the Crimson Tide's speed, especially in its front court.

"Alabama's as athletic a team as we'll see all year, particularly at the 3, 4 and 5," Pearl said.

The Crimson Tide were picked to finish third in the SEC West at the beginning of the year, but the players seem to have bought into Grant's system in his second year as head coach.

"It's a big difference from year one to year two in terms of the guys' understanding of the expectations we have, and I think, for the most part, we're trying to do the things that myself and my staff is asking of our players," Grant said.