Alabama Basketball Goes To Vanderbilt

Alabama Basketball Coach Anthony Grant won't go into Nashville Saturday with any sign of being gun shy, but no one could blame him if had bad feelings about the trek north.

The last time Alabama played Vanderbilt in Nashville, two horrendous officiating decisions in the final moment handed the 2011 game to the Commodores. Moreover, just a week ago, Bama went to Tennessee – to Knoxville – and the officials were again egregious as the Crimson Tide has a basketball win taken from Bama.

That one-point loss to the Vols was Alabama's only setback in its last six Southeastern Conference game.

The Crimson Tide (13-7, 5-2 SEC) enters the game tied for third overall in the SEC after hanging to defeat Arkansas, 59-56, on Thursday night in Coleman Coliseum.

Vanderbilt has an uncharacteristically weak team this year, but that doesn't mean the Commodores won't be a formidable force in Memorial Gym. Vandy is only 8-11 overall and 2-5 in SEC games.

Bama and Vandy have one thing in common. The Commodores also lost by one point in Knoxville, falling by 58-57 to the Vols Tuesday night.

Saturday's game will tip off at 3 p.m. CST and will be televised on the SEC Network.

"I have not had much of a chance to watch Vanderbilt just yet," UA Coach Anthony Grant said following Thursday night's contest vs. Arkansas. "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 and get ready from a mental standpoint to go play the game. We'll be ready to go."

Junior guard Trevor Releford is the Tide's top scorer. A preseason All-SEC honoree, Releford enters the contest leading the SEC in free throw shooting (.854), is fourth in field goal percentage (.495) and sixth in scoring (15.9 ppg). In conference games only, the 6-0 point guard leads the league in field goal percentage (.541), is second in free throw percentage (.889), and is fifth in scoring (16.5 ppg).

Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 12.2 points per game and ranks second on the team in three-point field goal percentage (41.8). Lacey tops the team in three pointers made (38) and attempted (91) and assists (3.6 apg). Combined, the duo of Releford and Lacey contribute 28.1 points per game, or approximately 44 percent of the team's 64.2 points per game.

Sophomore guard Rodney Cooper also averages double figures with 10.6 ppg, but did not score against Arkansas and was held out the finbal 15 minutes of the game Thursday night.

Vanderbilt is led by sophomore guard Kedron Johnson, who is the only player on the team averaging double figures with 14.8 points per game. Johnson also tops the squad in assists (3.2 apg), steals (1.3 spg) and minutes (32.5 mpg) for the year.

Vanderbilt is one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league. The Commodores rank third in the league in threes made per game (7.5) and are fifth in three-point field goal percentage (35.0 per cent). Earlier this season, Vanderbilt drilled a school record 17 treys in an overtime loss to Mississippi (17-of-40). The Commodores rank 13th out of 14 SEC teams in scoring offense (59.6) but are fifth in scoring defense (61.6). Saturday's game will mark the 132nd meeting between the two schools, which is the ninth-most games UA has played against any one opponent. The Commodores own a slim 66-65 edge in the series and have won three straight games and four of the last five.

Seven of the last eight games played between Alabama and Vanderbilt has been decided by 10 or fewer points, with five of those contests being decided by five or fewer points. Two of the last eight games have also went to overtime.

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