Alabama Holds On To Beat Vandy

Alabama squandered most of a big second half lead, but had enough of a cushion to open Southeastern Conference play with a 68-63 win over Vanderbilt in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night.

Alabama led by 10 points at halftime and 16 points early in the second half, but Vanderbilt was able to close the margin to only three points in the final two-and-a-half minutes before the Crimson Tide got a stroke of luck. As often happens in the Bama offensive scheme, the shot clock was nearing zero with no plan apparent. Retin Obasohan threw up a long trey and it was good, opening up a six-point lead with 1:24 to play.

A minute later, Trevor Releford scored his only points of the second half on a pair of free throws to ice the game.

Alabama put four men in double figures, led by Releford with 16. Freshman Shannon Hale and Obasohan had 15 each and Levi Randolph had 11 points. For Vanderbilt, Rod Odom hit 5-7 three-point shots and had 20 points to go with his 10 rebounds. Freshman Damian Jones had 16 points and Kyle Fuller was good for 15.

Alabama continues in SEC play at Georgia Saturday, a game that will tip off at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time). The Tide returns home Jan. 15 hosting Mississippi State.

Alabama was good on 25-52 from the field for 48.1 per cent, while the Commodores made 21-46 for 45.7 per cent. The Tide hit 6-16 (37.5 per cent) on three-point shots, Vandy 6-13 (46.2 per cent). Vanderbilt made 15-17 free throws (88.2 per cent), Alabama only 12-19 (63.2 per cent).

Vanderbilt won the rebounding battle, 32-25. No Alabama player had more than four rebounds.

Alabama had 17 points off 16 Vanderbilt turnovers, while the Commodores had 8 points off 8 Bama turnovers. Alabama had a slim 30-26 advantage in the paint and a 6-0 margin on fast break points. Vandy had 11 second chance points, Alabama 8.

Alabama was living off Vanderbilt's turnovers and fouls beford Releford went on a tear late in the first half. Hale was the early offensive performer for Bama in the early going, but when he picked up his second foul he had to exit, having scored nine points in nine minutes.

Through the first 12 minutes of the game, Alabama had 18 points against the Vandy zone, 10 off Vandy turnovers and six free throws.

Releford came to life in the final four and a half minutes, including making two free throws that gave Alabama a 20-22 advantage, the final lead change of the first half. Releford scored a nice layup on a fast break and added a free throw to give the Tide a 27-21 lead. A half minute later Releford drained a long three-pointer to make it 30-21 and completing and 8-0 Bama run.

Alabama closed out the half with Obasohan saving the ball on a missed Tide free throw and making a long pass to Randolph for the ally-oop and a 32-22 lead. Rodney Cooper had a fine putback for a 34-24 lead. And a Releford assist to Nick Jacobs for a short jumper gave the Tide a 36-26 halftime lead.

Releford had 14 points and four assists in the first half. He would have two of each in the second half.

Hale started the second half like he played the first half – with his fourth field goal – a dunk on an assist from Releford – and seconds later a foul, his third. And Alabama started the second half like the Tide finished the first, out-scoring the Commodores 10-4 in the first four and a half minutes to take a 46-30 lead.

The press took its toll on Vandy, playing without suspended point guard Eric McClellan. Vanderbilt had three trips failing to get the ball to halfcourt, and the Tide scored six points on those opportunities.

When Obasohan made a short jumper six minutes into the half, the Tide had a 50-34 lead.

Jacobs back-to-back outside jumpers around a Rod Odom trey and Alabama led 54-39 with 11 minutes to play.

Vandy then had a five-point run that was ended by a Randolph trey with eight and a half minutes to play. Three minutes later Obasohan had a three-pointer that increased the Alabama lead to 61-49. After both those shots, Odom answered with three-pointers for Vandy.

Vandy got three straight lane drives for layups – two by Duller and one by Jones and with 3:20 to play Bama's once-substantial lead was down to three points at 61-58. Odom cut it to three again at 63-60 with 2:26 to play, leading to the desperation – and successful – trey by Obasohan.

TIDE NOTES: Alabama's starting lineup was junior Carl Engstrom at center, freshman Shannon Hale at forward, and guards senior Trevor Releford, junior Levi Randolph, and sophomore Retin Obasohan.

Vanderbilt was without starting point guard Eric McClellan, the Commodores' leading scorer at 14.3 points per game. A pre-game announcement said he "did not make the trip to Tuscaloosa with the team, and the timetable for his return is unknown at this time."

Alabama has now won 13 consecutive SEC games at Coleman Coliseum, best current streak in the conference. Bama's last home loss was Feb. 14, 2013, when fourth-ranked Florida took a 61-52 decision.

Alabama increased its advantage in the all-time series against Vanderbilt to 68-65. The Tide is 43-18 against the Commodores in Tuscaloosa, including 25-11 in Coleman Coliseum.

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