Tide Needed Just One More Score

All Alabama needed to do to beat Vanderbilt was score one more time. Down by one point with six seconds left after a Jeffery Taylor free throw, the visiting Commodores wisely guarded Mikhail Torrance on the inbounds pass so Anthony Brock brought it up, drove, missed, and JaMychal Green was unable to control the rebound enough to get up one last shot in a heart-breaking 65-64 home loss.

"We executed well," said Mikhail Torrance, who led all scorers in the game with 23 points. "We got the shot we wanted. Nine times out of ten, I think Anthony Brock will hit that shot. I think we played pretty well, but in games like this, you want to be able to put it away. It was frustrating. But we're going to capitalize and watch film and learn from it."

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant was "obviously disappointed in the way things ended, but I think it's a game our team can learn and grow from. We talk about the importance of being able to defend and rebound. There are things we can improve on."

Besides Torrance, the only other Alabama player in double figures was freshman Tony Mitchell, who came off the bench to score 10 points in just 18 minutes. He had some follow-up dunks of the highlight reel variety, but he struggled with foul trouble. "Coach always says, ‘crash the boards.' so I did. But you've got to stay in the game," said Mitchell, who added seven boards and a block. "I came off the bench with a lot of energy, and just came out ready to play."

Alabama started off the game with a 9-0 run before an announced crowd of 11,608 that included a handful of NBA scouts, including former Tide Coach David Hobbs of the Charlotte Bobcats. If they were there to see Vandy center A.J. Ogilvy (13 points, nine boards) or Bama forward Green (seven points, 10 boards), they had to make their evaluations based on the fact that both men, like Mitchell, spent a good deal of the evening in foul trouble. Ogilvy played 26 minutes, while Green logged but 20.

Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said, "I thought our guys just hung in and fought hard. Another key was we played good defense in the second half. The difference in the game was the number of times we got to the free throw line."

That would be 37 attempts by Vandy to only 17 for the Tide. The Commodores outscored ‘Bama 20-10 at the line.

Said Grant: ""I'll look at it on film. We'll evaluate it, and we'll go from there.

"They're a big, physical team, when you look at the size they have compared to the size we have. We've got to do a better job of blocking out and coming up with those defensive rebounds."

Bama was doomed by 37 per cent shooting over the final 20 minutes after nailing 57 per cent in the first half. Though Bama hit only 59 per cent at the charity stripe, the Commodores helped out by only hitting 54 per cent there. And that dismal second half shooting by his team? Grant credited the Vandy defense, like Stallings.

"They got a lot more aggressive in the second half," Grant said. "We stood around a lot, and we had guys in foul trouble tonight. We weren't able to execute and take advantage of things they were doing.

"At the end of the day, I told our guys the game was coming down to our ability to defend and rebound. We gave up some second-chance opportunities there."

Vandy only outscored Bama 8-7 on second chance points, but that one point made the difference in victory and defeat. As Torrance put it, "We've just got to do our jobs, and hopefully the ball bounces our way next time."

Green's foul trouble played into Vandy's hands, as could be expected. "I think they made an adjustment when JaMychal got in foul trouble," said Torrance. I tried to pitch (the ball) put to our shooters, and we got great looks." That is evidenced by Bama's 1-6 mark on open 3's in the final 20 minutes.

Defensively, the Tide's goal of causing double-digit turnovers to set up its offense flopped, too. Vandy only turned the ball over eight times against the Tide's pressure defense.

Vandy (13-3, 2-0 SEC) got 13 points from Taylor (including the game-winning free throw after he'd missed the first). Jermaine Beal and John Jenkins scored 11 each. Bama (11-5, 1-1) travels to Arkansas Saturday for a 12:30 CST tip.

As Mitchell said," We just have to keep playing hard, and I have to keep playing hard."

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