Vanderbilt Hosts Alabama Basketball Tonight

Greg Arias

The Vanderbilt Commodores will look to bounce back from Saturday's disaster when the host the Alabama Crimson Tide in an 8 pm tipoff inside Memorial Gym. 

The Commodores dropped their fourth conference game of the season and 23rd consecutive dating back to last season in their 66-45 loss to Tennessee, but that wasn't the worst part. The Commodores went 0-25 from three-point range and saw their streak of 1,080 consecutive games with a made three come to an end at the hands of their most bitter rivals. 

Just how do the Commodores bounce back from that? Bye winning! That solves most everything.  

The Tide roll into Memorial with a 10-7 overall record, 3-2 in SEC play with losses to Florida and Kentucky, but with an upset win over then, 5th ranked Auburn along with victories over Mississippi State and Missouri.  

If there is hope in the numbers for the Commodores, it's that both Bama's conference losses were on the road. They are 3-0 in SEC play inside Coleman Coliseum.     

Under first-year head coach Nate Oats, the Tide average 83.5 ppg, good for third-best in the nation. Defensively they allow opponents to average 77.6 per contest. 

Since the loss of Aaron Nesmith, the Commodores scoring defense has risen, allowing opponents to average 74.1 per game for the season.  

Bama brings four players scoring in double figures into this game, lead by sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. who averages 16.4 ppg. Fellow guard, John Petty Jr. is a dynamic shooter and playmaker capable of taking over games. He is averaging 16.3 ppg while Jaden Shackleford (12.2) and Herbert Jones (10.1) round out the top scorers.  

This game will again be a test for the undermanned Commodores as the Tide have a deep bench with eight players averaging double-figure minutes per game and a ninth player just under that mark per game. 

Petty, at 6'5" is the Tide's leading rebounder, collecting 7.2 per game and is shooting just under 50% at 47.5 from three-point range. Lewis leads the visitors in both assists (4.6) and steals (1.8) per game. 

Perimeter defense against Petty and stopping dribble penetration will both be keys if the Commodores are to snap the four-game losing streak in conference and earn their first league win of the season. 

The Tide are a guard dominated team, with Jones providing the bulk of the work inside, and while the Commodores have struggled at times with big bodies inside, Jones is not that type player. At 6'7" 205, he is a long, lean athlete with great leaping ability. He will still pose a challenge for Vanderbilt inside but is not a space-eater. 

Tipoff is set for 8 pm and can be seen on the SEC Network. 

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregAriasSports and @SIVanderbilt or on Facebook at Vanderbilt Commodores-Maven

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