|Final - 1.19.2012||1||2||Total|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||19||40||59|
Don't let the final score fool you. This was an absolute beatdown. Alabama's defense is stifling -- you don't post an adjusted 84.9 defensive efficiency (KenPom) by accident. Entering the game, Vanderbilt's offensive efficiency was 109.6. If the game had ended at the 4:20 mark in the second half, Vandy would have hit its average. That is a remarkable feat in and of itself. Most importantly for Commodore fans, the Vanderbilt defense was the bigger story. They are a completely different team on the defensive end than we've seen in the last three or four years, probably since 2006-2007. Now, Alabama's offense hasn't exactly been the recipient of great praise from experts, but they came into the game averaging only 2 points fewer per 100 possessions than the Commodores (adjusted) at 107.4. Vanderbilt absolutely tore the Crimson Tide offense apart.
Without a single country music star in sight, Coleman Coliseum was still a little bit of Nashville on Thursday night. The Vanderbilt Commodores, who have plagued the University of Alabama basketball team in their Nashville home for years, delivered a similar spanking to UA on the Crimson Tide's home floor Thursday night, leading by as many as 23 points en route to an eventual 69-59 victory. The loss snapped the Crimson Tide's 10-game home winning streak against SEC competition and - with a game against No. 2 Kentucky less than 48 hours away - put UA's Southeastern Conference aspirations on a back burner until further notice. The 10-point margin marked the worst home defeat for UA (13-5, 2-2 SEC) in Anthony Grant's three-year head coaching tenure at UA.
"They were very big and very physical, and they contested our shots. They did a very good job of limiting us to only one shot. You look in the game they had 35 defensive rebounds, but we were able to come up with 15 offensive rebounds. I'm not really sure we were able to convert many of those offensive rebounds into points, so again, give them credit. They've got a very good team, and certainly very impressive, from what I saw."
Trevor Releford led Alabama, which had won 10 straight SEC home games, with 14 points and freshman Levi Randolph had 13. Green did have eight rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds. Mitchell, who came in averaging 14.5 points, missed all eight field goal attempts and was held scoreless for the first time in his career. "Tony has got to be able to regroup and understand that every player goes through a night where you struggle," Tide coach Anthony Grant said.
"I thought Vanderbilt was very good tonight," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "When you look at what they were able to do from a defensive standpoint, it really took us out of everything we wanted to do. They really limited our opportunities around the basket and contested everything on the perimeter."
All Alabama coach Anthony Grant could do was laud the defense of a team known for its offense. "Vanderbilt did a really good job of closing gaps, really shrinking the floor on us, not letting us get interior passes ... not letting us get clean looks in terms of getting entry into the post, contesting shots," Grant said.
"What we did tonight, I thought was very impressive," Stallings said. "We didn't play the first five minutes of the game very well and we didn't play the last five of it very well, but I thought the middle 30 we were pretty sharp."
Resurgent Vanderbilt put the clamps on Alabama stars Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green with smothering defense and got standard performances from its own top players. The result was another double-digit win that threatened to get really lopsided. John Jenkins had 20 points and Jeffery Taylor scored 17 to help the Commodores beat the Crimson Tide 69-59 Thursday night for their eighth straight win. They never let Green (six points) or Mitchell (zero) get going. "We came out here and set our minds to playing physical and that was pretty much the key," said Festus Ezeli, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
A roster stocked with experience is why the Commodores have such high expectations this season. Now all those upperclassmen are giving coach Kevin Stallings a big assist on and off the court. Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli are holding their younger teammates accountable, making them work harder. The Commodores also held a team meeting after a 61-55 loss to Indiana State on Dec. 17 on their own floor dropped them to 6-4 and out of the Top 25 for the second time this season. Since then, the Commodores have won seven straight, and they go into Thursday night’s game at Alabama (13-4, 2-1) joining No. 2 Kentucky as the Southeastern Conference’s two undefeated teams in league play. Taylor credits the maturity level on a team with six seniors and two juniors, helping them act like coaches on the court for the younger players. "It’s definitely helping us this year just in close games or in loud environments," Taylor said.
"Trey's a young guy who came in early, so he's ahead of most young guys, he's got a spring on everybody," Kirby Smart said before Alabama's 21-0 victory over LSU at the BCS National Championship Game. "He's really learning the defense. Plays hard. Has great speed. "Again, he's got to get bigger, stronger, but he's a fast guy that can fly to the ball. We're looking for good things. Glad we got him."
"It's tough to play on the offensive line, especially when he can play several positions," Stallings said. "You just can't realize how important that is to a coach to have a good football player that can play at more than one spot. He's been able to do that to help the University of Alabama."
Alabama crushed the competition when it came to filling seats in 2011, averaging 101,821 a game (100 percent capacity of Bryant-Denny Stadium). That was the same mark Alabama hit in 2010 after the stadium's expansion following the 2009 season.