Tide Hosts Vandy To Start Stretch Run

There is reason to believe that Alabama’s game against Vanderbilt in Coleman Coliseum Saturday night will be close. The Crimson Tide has had three Southeastern Conference losses (and one win) come down to the final possession. Vandy has lost eight SEC games by single digits, including three that have come down to the final possession.

That does not necessarily mean it will be good basketball. Alabama has won two of its last three games to improve to 15-9 overall and 5-6 in the SEC. Vanderbilt is 13-11 overall, 3-8 in the conference.

There is one piece of good news for the Crimson Tide. Coach Anthony Grant said Friday, “We're beginning to get a little healthier. I think Retin (Obasohan) will be available for this game.”

Obasohan had missed two games with an infected hand. Bama still does not expect to get starting point guard Ricky Tarrant (leg injury) back for this game. Forward Michael Kessens, who had sprained an ankle earlier this month, returned for the Tide’s most recent game, a 55-51 win at Mississippi State.

It was no secret that Alabama’s SEC schedule was front-loaded with tough opponents as the Tide finished those nine games 4-5. The second half of the season has seven games to go and includes four against teams near the bottom of the league (two against Vandy and at Auburn and home to South Carolina) and three against teams near the top (Georgia and Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa, Texas A&M away).

Bama and the Commodores tip off at 7 p.m. CST Saturday. ESPNU will televise the game. It marks the start of a stretch of four of the next six games being in Coleman for the Alabama.

In addition to Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt, the Tide will play the Commodores in Nashville two weeks later, Feb. 28.

Grant said, “We've been impressed watching Vanderbilt on film. They're a very talented team. They're extremely well coached. I've got a lot of respect for Coach (Kevin) Stallings and what he does. You look at their games. They've had a chance to win just about every game they've played. They're obviously coming off of a tough defeat against Tennessee (73-76 in overtime in Nashville Wednesday). Had the game won in regulation and a couple of plays didn't go their way, and they lost in overtime.

“This is a team that's very explosive offensively and very solid defensively. They've got perimeter shooting that's as good as anybody in our league. In the front court, Damian Jones (14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds per game) is one of the premier bigs in our league. [James] Siakam plays extremely physical and does all the things that help his team win.

“They've got versatility, so it should be a challenge for us. I know our guys are excited to get back on the court coming off of a good win in our last game on the road. We're looking forward to getting it going tomorrow.”

Alabama has an all-time record of 68-65 against Vandy after having won two in a row against the Commodores. Bama is 42-18 against the Commodores in Tuscaloosa, including a 24-11 mark in Coleman Coliseum.

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