Magic returns: Vanderbilt 70 Alabama 69

Memorial Magic returned to Vanderbilt last night as the Vanderbilt Commodores upset #4 ranked Alabama, 70-69, in a regionally televised SEC basketball game. The Commodores used red-hot shooting and good defense to take a 36-30 lead into the locker room at the half and then withstood a furious Alabama rally to notch their first Southeastern Conference win of the 2002-03 season.

The two teams played fairly evenly the first several minutes of the game with each team taking small leads for short periods. Vanderbilt took a 4 point lead with 12 minutes remaining in the first half on a Dawid Przybyszewski jumper to give the Commodores a 12-8 lead. Later, Matt Freije connected on a 3-point shot with 7 minutes remaining in the half to extend the Vanderbilt lead to 7. Freije would go on to score 19 and was successful on 8 of 10 field goal attempts, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range.

Scott Hundley, a player who has stepped up his play in a big way lately, scored on a lay-up with 3:31 remaining in the half to give the Commodores a 32-20 lead. The 12-point margin would be the largest margin of the game for either team. Hundley finished the night with 12 points, his best night of the season.

The Crimson Tide, led by Moe Williams, stormed back to cut that margin in half by halftime. A William's 3-pointer with half-a-minute remaining in the half cut the lead to 5 at 35-30. Later a Corey Smith free throw would provide the final scoring of the half and make the score 36-30. Williams led both teams in scoring with 23.

Vanderbilt, who had struggled from 3-point range in earlier losses to Top 25 teams, connected on an incredible 71 percent (5-7) of their 3-point attempts in fist half. The Commodores connected on an overall 60 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half.

In the second half Vanderbilt shooting cooled off some but the Commodores still finished the game with over 50 percent shooting success including 61 percent from 3-point land.

In the second half Vanderbilt quickly stretched their lead to 9 when Freije converted on a 3-point play after being fouled by Kenny Walker while shooting.

With 13 minutes remaining in the game Alabama's Kennedy Winston tied the score at 46 on a jump shot. Winston finished with 14 points.

An Erwin Dudley bucket with 12 minutes remaining gave Alabama its first lead of the second half. The Tide led 48-46 but the lead would be very brief.

Vanderbilt re-took the lead at 52-50 for good on a Julian Terrell jumper with 9 minutes remaining. Later, with 6:51 remaining, a Lakey 3-pointer gave the Commodores a 5-point lead at 57-52.

Vanderbilt then used free throws by Scott Hundley, Brian Thornton and Lakey to maintain the 5-7 point cushion before Alabama was able cut the lead to 2 on free throws by Winston with 50 seconds remaining.

Russell Lakey then drained a timely 3-point shot to put the game back under Vanderbilt's control with 20 seconds remaining at 66-61.

Alabama would go on to outscore Vanderbilt 8-4 over the last 20 seconds of the game but it wouldn't be enough. Free throw shooting by Hundley and Corey Smith conserved the win for Vanderbilt. A meaningless last second 3-point shot by Moe Williams made the final score Vanderbilt 70 Alabama 69. The win was Vanderbilt's first over a Top 10 team since 2000.

After the game Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings had these comments to the Vanderbilt ISP Sports Network: "I'm pleased for our players and our fans. We loaded up the schedule and didn't really fair too well with the non-conference schedule. Right now we are sitting at 8-5 and it doesn't look great. We lost a tough game at Auburn that we thought we could have won. To bounce back and play this way, they responded very well because on Thursday we had a little bit of a beat down practice and they came out and responded great and played very well. We came back yesterday and put another good practice behind that one. Then we came out today and the way we played today reflected our practice play. From that stand point I'm really pleased."

Vanderbilt will have little time to celebrate. The Commodores host #19 Kentucky Tuesday night in a nationally televised game. Alabama falls to 11-2 (1-1 SEC) with the loss and will host #8 Mississippi State on Wednesday. Top Stories