TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama men's basketball team found a way to overcome another lethargic start to survive a scare from Vanderbilt, 82-78, on Saturday afternoon inside Coleman Coliseum.
"Fortunate to get a win," coach Nate Oats said postgame. "Happy for the seniors on Senior Day to get a win. Proud of them for what they've done for the program. It's their team."
Trailing by seven with 10 minutes left in the first half, the Crimson Tide proceeded to end the opening period on a 16-4 run to take a 33-29 lead into intermission.
No. 8 Alabama (18-5, 13-1 SEC) shot 29 times from the field in the first half, 24 of which were three-point attempts. The Crimson Tide only converted six of those for an abysmal 25 percent.
Before the first media timeout of the second half, Alabama missed all six of its first attempts from the field, which allowed Vanderbilt to take a 38-34 advantage.
Powered by senior wing Herbert Jones, the Crimson Tide managed to go on a 23-7 run to give Alabama its biggest lead of the contest, 57-45.
The Commodores answered back with a punch of their own, going on a 20-6 run to go up 65-63 with 5:37 on the clock after a layup from guard Scotty Pippen Jr.
A three-pointer from senior forward Alex Reese gave Alabama a one-point lead that it would never relinquish, despite multiple turnovers from the Crimson Tide down the stretch that allowed the Commodores to extend the game at the free-throw line.
"I want to highlight Alex Reese's play," Oats said of Reese who finished in double-figures with 10 points. "He led the team in plus/minus, hit the two threes, hit the big one in the second half. He came out and played well."
Sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford dropped a team-high and season-high 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting. He also added four rebounds and two assists.
As a whole, Alabama finished 43 percent from the field (26-of-61) and 26 percent from beyond-the-arc (10-of-39). It allowed Vanderbilt to connect on 10 triples.
"Our defense wasn’t very good today," Oats said. "I’ll be honest with you: a lot of credit goes to Vanderbilt. This is one of the better coached teams in the league. I got a lot of respect for Jerry Stackhouse."
The Commodores had three players score double-digits with Pippen (24), forward Dylan Disu (17) and guard Maxwell Evans (18).
Following the game, the Crimson Tide honored Jones, guards John Petty Jr. and Britton Johnson, Reese, forwards Tyler Barnes, Kendall Wall and Jordan Bruner for Senior Day.
"I tell these guys numerous times, I have a lot of years left in coaching," Oats said. "But you guys have limited time to play this game. This is your team. You are going to decide what you get out of it. The seniors have done a good job of taking ownership of this team."
Next up, the Crimson Tide will travel to Fayetteville on Wednesday night to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 8 p.m (CT) on the SEC Network.
With one more conference win Alabama will clinch the SEC regular-season title outright. It would be the school's first league title since 2002.
"It would mean a lot," Jones said. "Especially going through what we through here during our four years. It would mean a lot. Seeing where we were picked to finish in the preseason and knowing we have a chance to clinch on Wednesday shows how far we've come and that our hard work is paying off."