Alabama Head Coach Anthony Grant - Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports
3:00PM CST, Memorial Coliseum, Nashville, TN
|Team||Alabama Crimson Tide||Vanderbilt Commodores|
|Record||12-7, 4-2 (4th in SEC)||8-11,5 (13th in SEC)|
|RPI||57.61 (63rd Nationally)||51.84 (138th|
|PPG||64.2 (9th/SEC)||59.6 (13th/SEC)|
|FG %||.446 (5th/SEC)||.410 (13th/SEC)|
|FT %||.693 (3rd/SEC)||.593 (14th/SEC)|
Vandy: G Kedron Jones (14.8 PPG, 3.2 APG, 32.5 mpg), G Kevin Bright (5.7 RPG, 47.6 3P%)
Alabama: G Trevor Releford (15.9 PPG, .854 FT %*), G Trevor Lacey (38/91 3PM, 3.6 APG)
Last win @ Vanderbilt: 1991
Alabama enters the contest coming off a win against Arkansas that highlighted both the Tide's strengths and weaknesses. An NCAA tournament bid is still a long shot, but with 11 games left to play - including games against Ole Miss and Florida - there is still a lot to gain by finishing strong; a loss to the struggling Commodores, however, would all but end any chance of an entry into the tournament.
Vanderbilt possesses a less than stellar record that includes losses to teams such as Marist, Davidson, and Middle Tennessee State. The Commodores began league play 0-3 against UK, Arkansas and Ole Miss, until picking up two straight wins against USC and Auburn. The streak was short lived as Vandy was pummeled by Missouri and lost a heartbreaking 1 point loss Tuesday night against Tennessee. Vanderbilt's disappointing season can be traced to a lack of consistency and physical play, particularly when it comes to their inside presence.
Similarly, the Tide has struggled with interior play. The offense has been inconsistent with good perimeter play offset by a lack of domination on the boards (Bama is 6-2 this season when out-rebounding their opponents). Conversely, Alabama has continued the Grant-era tradition of good free throw shooting at 69.3% (third in the league), and the offense has improved and ranks fourth in the league in three-point percentage (.354) and fifth in field goal percentage (.446).
Rebounding inconsistencies aside, the defense has been solid. Bama is currently 29th in the country in points allowed per game at 59.0, and both blocks and steals per game are good enough for 4th in the SEC. The Tide shut down Arkansas Thursday night in the waning minutes to secure the win (via UA Athletics):
"We found a way to win," UA Head Coach Anthony Grant said. "It wasn't pretty. There were obviously things in the game we would have liked to have done differently, but at the end of the day when it came down to crunch time, our guys found a way. We did a great job at the free-throw line tonight. We had some big stops at the end of game."
On Vanderbilt (via UA Athletics)
"They are extremely well-coached and I know (sophomore guard) Kedron Johnson is having a great year for them. They have a lot of new faces from last year's team, but that's also mixed in with some veteran guys who played for them some last year. Without looking at their schedule, it seems like they've improved as the season has progressed. Anytime you go on the road, it's going to be a tough environment to play in. They will be hungry for a win. We have to take both the good and the bad for the (Arkansas) game and mentally lock in tomorrow and get ready from a mental standpoint to go play the game. We'll be ready to go."
A win in Nashville is critical as Bama cannot afford a slip up down the home stretch. bit