Tide Rolls Into Round Two

Like Georgia, the Crimson Tide of Alabama went through a coaching change this season. But unlike the Bulldogs, the Tide got better late in the season. That string continued in Tampa Thursday when Bama bested Vandy 82-75 in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Alabama used a solid finish to the 1st half and a strong start to the second to send Vandy back to the NIT.

Alonzo Gee led Bama with 25 points while Mikhail Torrance added 20 and freshman JaMychal Green added a double-double (13/10). Freshmen Brad Tinsley (20) and Jeffrey Taylor (19) led the way for Vandy, which got just six points from star center A.J. Ogilvy

The first half was really an exchange of runs and Alabama got the best of the streaky play. The Crimson Tide and Vandy were tied at two before an 8-0 run gave Bama a 10-2 lead. After Vandy closed to within three (18-15) on a Jeffrey Taylor dunk that capped a 13-8 stretch, Alabama went on another run. This time the Tide outscored Vandy 11-2 to go up by 12 (29-17). But that just meant it was the Commodores turn, and Vanderbilt wasn't in the mood to roll over and play dead. The Commodores responded with an impressive 11-1 run to get within two points (30-28) with 2:51 to go in the half. But the ‘Dores couldn't keep it going. Vandy scored just one more basket while Alabama put the ball in the hole three times and it was Bama 36-30 at the break.

That momentum continued into the second half as Bama came out smokin'. A 14-4 run for the first five minutes put the Tide up 50-34 and it was time to start thinking about the second Alabama/Tennessee game in six days. But hold a second. Vandy went on an 8-0 run and closed to within eight points three times and six points twice, but Bama responded every time. Then with Bama leading 66-56, Vandy gets consecutive baskets to close to within six with 2:24 to go but that was the Commodores' last surge. Alonzo Gee hit a mid range jumper and Green followed with the slam and the Crimson Tide was on its way to the quarterfinals.

Alabama (18-13) strengthened its case for an NIT bid and will try to beat Tennessee for the second time this week Friday. Vanderbilt (19-12) will almost certainly join Bama in the NIT.

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