In what has become a common theme, last night clearly wasn't Alabama's night. The Tide made 23 field goals to 21 for Vanderbilt including 11-24 on threes vs. 6-15 for the Commodores, Alabama grabbed 38 rebounds including 14 on the offensive end while Vandy had 30 total and only five on the offensive boards. 'Bama only turned the ball over seven times and had 11 assists. Sounds like a recipe for victory, right? Then how did they lose Saturday night by a score of 76-68? Free throws is the answer. In a sport when home court typically gives a team an advantage in such matters, once again that did not happen in Coleman Coliseum. Vandy made 28 of 35 free throws, while the Tide only attempted 17 and made 11.
'Bama had a 33-32 lead at the half despite getting zero points from their two leading scorers, Levi Randolph, who was 0-3, and Ricky Tarrant who can't score from the bench, where he has been regulated due to injury for the last four games. Retin Obasohan, back from a two game injury exile, and Rodney Cooper had seven points apiece at the intermission, followed by five points from Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale. The Tide had 25 rebounds, 10 on the offensive glass, at the half and should have had a much larger lead. With a five point lead and just 20 seconds left, Obasohan missed the front end of a one and one followed by a personal and technical foul call on Michael Kessens, giving the Commodores four free throws with just two seconds left on the clock.
In the second half the game was a back and forth affair, with 11 lead changes. Randolph, after being held scoreless for the first 26 minutes of the game, finally got involved and scored 15 points in the second half. Down the stretch 'Bama couldn't make the plays they needed to, missing several put-backs and lay-ups that would have kept the game within reach.
Randolph was the Tide's leading scorer with his 15 and also grabbed seven rebounds. Obasohan scored 10, and was joined in double figures by Hale with 10 points and six rebounds. Jimmie Taylor scored seven and rebounded six, while Riley Norris had five points and eight rebounds. Justin Coleman and Cooper contributed seven points each, and Michael Kessens scored four points and had five rebounds.
Vanderbilt big Damian Jones had his way inside and scored 20 points and had seven rebounds. Luke Kornet, the Commodores other big guy scored 12, as did Riley Lachance. Matthew Fisher-Davis hurt the Tide from outside and had 13 points on the night.
No way around it, this is a game the Tide couldn't afford to lose, and should not have lost. The win was Vandy's first road victory of the SEC season, and pushed their record to 14-11, 4-8 in conference. With the loss the Tide dropped to 15-10, 5-7 in the SEC. Alabama takes the court next on Tuesday when they travel to Auburn for an 8 p.m. CST tip off. The Tigers are coming off of a surprising road victory at Georgia on Saturday afternoon. The game will be televised on ESPNU.