Vanderbilt Hands Alabama Embarrassing Home Loss
While it may have been Valentine’s Day, there was little to love about Alabama’s late-game performance Saturday night.
After a series of back-and-forth lead changes in the second half, the Crimson Tide faded down the stretch and fell 76-68 at home to Vanderbilt. The loss is its seventh in its last 10 SEC games.
“It’s February. Right now, we’ve got six games that remain, a third of the conference season to play,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “This is a tough loss. I’m hoping that they’re realizing the opportunity that was wasted today.
“Sometimes with young guys you get in that mode where you just think it’s ‘I’ve got another game tomorrow, I’ve got another game in a couple days, everything will be OK.’ The urgency that you’ve got to have, for some reason – I’ll look at the film – I didn’t feel like we had the urgency that we needed to have to be able to win a game like that today.”
Following a Levi Randolph 3-pointer with 4:20 remaining, Vanderbilt took a 64-63 lead on the next possession and then ended the game on a 15-5 run. Alabama did not lead again.
The Commodores (14-11, 4-8 SEC) have now won three out of its last four games, following a seven-game losing streak in conference play. Its most recent loss came in an overtime defeat at home against Tennessee on Wednesday.
"I was asked the question a lot after Wednesday night until today even, ‘How are your guys going to be able to bounce back from the tough loss to Tennessee?’" Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. There’s just an expectation that you have to bounce back, you have to come back and play the next game and you have to play it well. Fortunately we did.
"I thought we had some tired guys. I looked out there and I thought our guys looked really tired, but they fought through and showed a lot of toughness to me."
Alabama (15-10, 5-7) is now 12-3 at Coleman Coliseum this season. Its other two losses came against Kentucky (Jan. 17) and Florida (Jan. 27).
Vanderbilt, the SEC leader in field goal percentage coming into Saturday’s contest, shot 47.7 percent from the floor. Five Vanderbilt players scored in double-figures led by center Damian Jones who had a game-high 20 points.
“Our defense was not good enough to win the game,” Grant said. "I thought that was the difference."
Randolph, who was held scoreless in the first half, finished with a team-high 15 points to go along with seven rebounds to lead the Crimson Tide. Retin Obasohan, who sat out the previous two games with a hand injury, added 10 points coming off the bench. Shannon Hale also had 10.
Vanderbilt trailed 33-32 at halftime but settled into the game after the break. The Commodores were outrebounded 38-30 on the night but held an 18-13 advantage in the second half. They also turned the ball over only four times (six total for the game) and gave Alabama just eight trips to the free throw line (11-17 total), meeting all of Stallings’ criteria.
“We talked about three things at halftime,” he said. “We talked about guarding the ball better, not putting them on the foul line and rebounding the ball better.”
The Crimson Tide will return to action this Tuesday at Auburn.