Bama bounced from tourney

One team showed that it deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night. That team, however, was wearing black and gold, and not crimson and white. <br><br>The lowly Vanderbilt Commodores jumped all over the Crimson Tide early, using the hot shooting of Mario Moore and Matt Freije to defeat the Tide, 82-69.

The loss leaves the Tide slipping toward the edge of the NCAA Tournament bubble--if it hasn't already burst. Don't tell that to coach Mark Gottfried, though.

"We will be evaluated on start to finish," Gottfried said following the game. "Obviously tonight doesn't help but when you look at our team from start to finish, you cant take away quality wins we have, you cant take away that we went out and played a quality schedule and beat good teams—teams that are going to be high seeds in the NCAA Tournament."

Moore, who only averaged 4.9 points per game for the Commodores, scored nine points early helping Vandy get out to an 18-5 lead. The Commodores hit their first eight shots of the game, and shot 58 percent in the first half led by Freije and Moore, who had 16 and 17 points in the first half, respectively.

Vanderbilt, who scored only 44 points to Kentucky eight days earlier, held a 46-37 halftime lead. "They came out and hit shot after shot," Gottfried said. "We defended them well and they still hit shots. They made every shot they had to make."

The Tide, led by Mo Williams, tried to answer the ‘Dores and came close several times. But it seemed like every time the Tide made a run, the Dores had an answer.

"We finally finished a game tonight," Freije said. "Tonight when they would make a run at us, we would answer."

The second half was much the same story. The nail in the coffin for the Tide was Corey Smith's three-pointer with 3 minutes left, putting the Commodores up eight.

Moore led the charge with 25 points, with Freije adding 24. Smith scored 15.

Williams led Alabama with 24 points, but many came early in the game.

Stallings praised the effort by his defense on Williams. "You'll laugh when I say this, but I think Jason Holwerda did a great job on Williams ,even though you look and he scored 24 points," Stallings said.

Antoine Pettway scored 16 for the Tide, and Earnest Shelton scored 11.

What was disappointing for the Tide, however, was Erwin Dudley's second straight subpar night. He scored just six points, and took only one shot in the first half.

After the second loss to Vanderbilt on the season, the Tide must sit and wait to see if their name is called on selection Sunday.

"I think we're a good enough team to get a bid," Pettway said. "Of course no one wants to go to the…

"We want to go to the NCAA Tournament."

"We're going to have to sweat it out the next 72 hours."

No team with a losing record in the SEC has been selected as an at-large team in the NCAA Tournament since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1991.

The Tide will find out its fate Sunday evening when the full tournament field is announced.


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