Alabama Basketball Gets What it Needs, a Road Win at Vanderbilt, 77-62
Despite committing 25 turnovers, Alabama basketball escaped Nashville with a win Wednesday night, defeating Vanderbilt 77-72.
The win for Alabama marks the first time since 1986 that the Crimson Tide has defeated Vanderbilt three consecutive times.
"It was nice to get a road win," Alabama head coach Nate Oats said in a statement. "I didn't think we played that well, especially on offense with all the turnovers. We needed to get a road win. I know Vanderbilt is a little bit depleted with all the injuries, but I thought their kids played hard. For a team that is depleted as them and doesn't have a lot of depth, they forced us into 25 turnovers, so give them credit."
Alabama struggled from beginning to end in the turnover game, committing 15 in the first half and adding 10 more in the second. The 25 turnovers resulted in 23 points for Vanderbilt, bringing the game to a much closer margin than the Crimson Tide would have liked.
Junior guard John Petty, Jr. led the offensive attack for Alabama, registering his fourth double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Petty also became the 51st player in Alabama program history to score 1,000 points in his college career.
Petty is the first player since Trevor Releford in 2013 to reach the milestone.
From out of the gate, Alabama seemed to be committing turnovers all over the court. Sloppy passing and poor ball-handling resulted in the ball ending up in Vanderbilt's hands early and often. Petty alone had four of the Crimson Tide's 15 first-half turnovers.
Despite his poor ball-handling, Petty made up for it on offense. The junior wing registered 17 points in the first half, going 5-for-7 from the 3-point line.
At the break, turnovers were helping Vanderbilt stay within striking distance. The teams headed to the locker room with the Crimson Tide up 37-31.
The second half initially started much like how the first had: Alabama committed two turnovers in the first two-and-a-half minutes.
With Vanderbilt having cut the lead to four, Alabama responded with a 14-0 run to take a commanding lead. Sophomore guard Kira Lewis, Jr. took charge of the run, scoring seven points.
With 4:51 remaining, redshirt-freshman forward Javian Davis went down grabbing the back of his right knee. Davis remained down for a while before eventually being assisted by a trainer and junior forward Alex Reese.
Davis did not return. Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News later caught up with Oats, who said that Davis will have an MRI on Thursday morning to determine the injury.
While the Crimson Tide continued to struggle to maintain possession of the ball, the lead gained by the early 14-0 run proved to be insurmountable for the Commodores.
Alabama was able to stymie the attempts made by Vanderbilt, and the Crimson Tide prevailed 77-62.
"We played hard enough to get the win, but I don't think we played that smart," Oats said. "We have to take care of the ball better. They struggled to shoot it, and I thought we gave them some open shots that they just missed."
In total, Alabama had four players reach double-digits including Petty with his 23 points, Lewis with 16, freshman guard Jaden Shackelford with 15 and junior guard Herbert Jones with 10.
While Alabama struggled with turnovers, one bright spot was rebounding. The Crimson Tide dominated 51-32, a season-high.
For Vanderbilt, freshman forward Dylan Disu lead the team with 21 points. Junior guard Saben Lee finished with 19 while freshman guard Scotty Pippen, Jr. registered 10 points.
Alabama moved to 11-7 overall, 4-2 in the SEC. Vanderbilt dropped to 8-10 overall, 0-5 in the conference.
The Crimson Tide returns to Tuscaloosa for the Big 12/SEC Challenge against Kansas State on Saturday (5 p.m. CT, ESPN 2), although the Wildcats will be missing some players due to suspensions.
"We've got plenty of areas to improve on before our game against Kansas State on Saturday," Oats said. "But it was nice to get a road win. Conference road wins are big and we needed that."