Bama Just Short In Loss At Vandy

One of the worst things about the Southeastern Conference is how many times basketball games are determined by the officials. Late in Alabama's basketball game at Vanderbilt Thursday night an official made the kind of call that visitors to Memorial Gym in Nashville have unfortunately become accustomed to.

Alabama played well enough to win in an important SEC road game, but came up an 81-77 loser to Vanderbilt. With under 20 seconds to play, Alabama had a 77-76 lead. Vanderbilt's Brad Tinsley made a short jumper and Bama's Trevor Releford, who was about a foot from Tinsley, was called for his fifth foul. Tinsley made the free throw to give the Commodores a 79-77 lead.

After a timeout, Alabama got the ball to JaMychal Green on the baseline. Green drove for the basket, had hands all over him, and was called for stepping on the line, effectively winning the game for Vandy. The Commodores padded it with two free throws when the Tide was forced to foul.

Vanderbilt plays good basketball, but the Commodores traditionally get plenty of help from SEC officials in Nashville. That's one reason Bama, which has an all-time 66-64 record against Vandy, has not won in Memorial Gym since 1990.

Alabama continues to lead the SEC Western Division and is tied for the overall SEC lead with a 7-2 conference record. Bama fell to 15-8 overall. Vanderbilt improved to 5-4 in the conference and 17-6 overall.

Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum for a 3 p.m. CST Saturday game against Ole Miss.

It looked like Alabama had dug itself a hole it couldn't get out of late in the first half when the Tide fell behind by 11, but Tony Mitchell led a comeback that pulled the Tide to within three points at intermission.

Vanderbilt led by as many as seven points in the second half, but after Alabama tied the game at 54-54 with 13:20 no more than two possessions separated the teams. Alabama never led by more than two points.

Green notched his 19th career double-double with a game-high 23 points, including 19 in the second half, to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Tony Mitchell scored 22 points while freshman guard Trevor Releford added 11 points.

Releford scored four straight points -- two free throws and a length-of-court drive and layup -- to give Alabama a one-point lead before he was whistled for his fifth foul. The second half had been nip and tuck with lead changes and ties until the final seconds.

The game was even for the first 10 minutes and then Vanderbilt got back-to-back three point shots to open up a lead the Commodores would not surrender. Alabama's last first half lead was at 15-14.

Vanderbilt was so hot on three-point shots in the first half that it looked like Bama would be out of the game, but the Tide fought back from deficits that reached 11 points, including 42-31. But Bama did what Bama does best, forcing turnovers and sharing the ball.

Alabama scored the final eight points of the first half, including six by Tony Mitchell, to cut the lead at intermission to only three points at 42-39. Mitchell's last points of the half came on a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Two of Bama's points came in unusual manner. Chris Hines missed the second of two free throws, but in the scramble for the rebound Vanderbilt's John Jenkins knocked it into the Alabama basket for two Tide points.

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