The Alabama Crimson Tide bounced back from the worst loss of the Nate Oats era with a resounding 101-44 victory over Vanderbilt on Tuesday night, after losing by 24 at Oklahoma on Saturday. Bama improved to 19-3 overall and 9-0 in the SEC. The Commodores fell to 10-12 and 3-6 in the conference.
It was a historic beatdown too: besides being Coach Oats’ largest margin of victory in his career, it was Alabama’s most lopsided margin in an SEC game in school history. The .63 points allowed per possession were the best nationally in four years, and the Tide’s best defensive showing since the 2002 season. Overall, it was the 4th-worst beating in SEC basketball’s 85 year history.
Alabama Hoops’ margin of victory over Vandy was by more points (58) than Alabama Football’s beatdown the woeful ‘Dores (52). And Alabama’s 29 assists were the most in almost two decades.
Finally, the 57-point margin was the greatest of any Power 5 team over another Power 5 since the 2008 season, when Kansas shellacked Texas Tech in the Phog — that KU team cut down the nets in March.
It was the kind of game that gets a struggling coach fired…and lights a fire under a team that had underplayed its last few outings.
Oats stuck with the same starting lineup of Jaden Bradley, Mark Sears, Charles Bediako, Noah Clowney, and Brandon Miller. The Commodores started out with a quick 5-0 lead before the Tide went on a 21-0 run to put the game away early. Sears started the rally with a three pointer, Bediako hit a hoop to tie the game before Miller drilled a long three pointer for an 8-5 lead at the 15:23 mark. After that it was off to the races.
Rylan Griffen hit a three and Nimari Burnett hit a pair to top of the 21-0 run. The ‘Dores made a three of their own before Miller hit another and Clowney broke a personal 0-23 cold streak from triple land by finally making one of his own. The Tide remained hot and went into the half with a lead of 43-15. Burnett had 11 points and Miller nine at the break.
Bama shot 15-26 for 58% in the half including 10-19 from deep and made 3-6 free throws. Vanderbilt shot 5-33 for 15% including 3-18 for 17% from three and made 2-2 free throws.
The same starters began the second half, and the Tide kept pouring it on — scoring more in a half (58), than Vandy scored all game.
Bediako opened things with a dunk, a Bradley three, and two highlight dunks from Miller pushed the score to 52-21 with 17 minutes left. Bediako continued his assault on the rim with three more dunks and Miller and Burnett continued to ripple the nets from long range. Clowney and Griffen both made their second from three point range as the relatively small crowd went wild. Attendance was announced at 9,500 for the 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
With 3:11 left and the score at 93-40, Oats emptied the bench with Jaden Quinerly, Adam Cottrell, and Delaney Heard joining Nick Pringle and Griffen for the last minutes of the game. Heard made a three pointer to the delight of his teammates (and the remaining crowd) and a Pringle monster dunk put the Tide over the century mark at 101. Eleven players played at least 12 minutes in the game for Bama.
In the second half, the Tide shot 21-35 for 60%, 9-22 from three point range for 41% and made 7-8 free throws. Overall Bama shot 36-61 for 59%, 19-41 from deep for 46%, and 10-14 from the charity stripe for 71%. The Tide made 17-20 shot from two point range. The team had 45 rebounds, 10 offensively (not many misses to rebound), 10 steals, three blocks, 12 turnovers and an incredible 29 assists on 36 made field goals. Miller led the way with 22 points on 8-15 shooting, including 6-13 from deep, added eight rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal. Burnett had his best game in Crimson with 16 points while making 4-7 from three point range and had four rebounds. Griffen had his second straight double figure game with 12 points and four assists. Gurley had 11 points and Bediako reached double digits with 10 points. Sears had nine points and eight assists. Jahvon Quinerly only had three points but dished seven assists with only one turnover. Clowney had six points and six rebounds. Miller had a plus/minus of +40 to lead the team and was co-player of the game with Burnett as well as winning the hard hat award.
Vanderbilt shot 11-31 in the half for 35%, including 0-12 from three point range and made 7-9 free throws. Overall the Commodores were a putrid 16-64 for 25%, 3-30 from behind the arc for 10%, but did make 9-11 free throws for 82%. The ‘Dores had 33 rebounds-15 on the offensive end-, six assists, seven steals. one block, and 16 turnovers. Paul Lewis led the team with 10 points.
Wow! Just wow!
The Tide have not played up to their standards for the last few games, and had a rough week last year with a close comeback win over Mississippi State and a blow out loss at Oklahoma.
The team seemed to be at a crossroad and needed an outstanding game to get back on track. They delivered that in spades.
After the game Oats said “it was too bad for Vanderbilt that they were next on the schedule after our loss Saturday.”
Oats added that he thought the team got the message the staff was trying to convey. Adding “the players really coached themselves over the last three days, they are a great group.” The Tide scored more points (58) in the second half than Vanderbilt scored in the game (44).
There was (mostly) a lot to love about this one, but Burnett looking like the player Alabama expected when he transferred from Texas Tech might be the most exciting.
The team getting their collective shooting eye back, the relentless defense, the look of joy in the players eyes as they played with purpose while having fun were other highlights of the night.
The one gripe was offensive rebounding, where the Tide had a weaker than expected showing against a team they physically dominated. And, on a sad note, Brandon Miller has just four home games left in his college career.
Next up for the Tide is a trip to Baton Rouge on Saturday to play LSU. The game time is 3 p.m. CT and will be shown on ESPNU.