Alabama (13-7) at Vanderbilt (8-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Alabama 9-3, Vanderbilt 5-4. Away Record: Alabama 2-4, Vanderbilt 2-4. Neutral Record: Alabama 2-0, Vanderbilt 1-3. Conference Record: Alabama 5-2, Vanderbilt 2-5. Series Record: Series is tied, 65-65.
GAME NOTES: An SEC tilt is on tap for Saturday afternoon, as the Vanderbilt Commodores welcome the Alabama Crimson Tide to Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville.
Alabama's season has been a strong one, as it sits at 13-7 overall, and the team has been especially hot of late with wins in five of its last six games to improve to 5-2 in the SEC, which has it tied for third place with Kentucky. The Tide hosted Arkansas in a Thursday night showdown and came out on the positive end of a 59-56 decision.
Vanderbilt has been one of the least remarkable teams in the SEC all season long as it has amassed just an 8-11 record, which includes only two wins in seven SEC bouts. The Commodores had been winners of back-to-back games versus South Carolina and Auburn, but they have since dropped a pair of road tests to nationally-ranked Missouri (81-59) and Tennessee (58-57).
After 130 all-time meetings, each side has won 65 times. Vanderbilt has evened the series by winning three straight games over the Tide.
Alabama and Arkansas spent the majority of the second half within one possession of each other, but the Crimson Tide were able to break a 50-50 tie inside of three minutes remaining and held on for the victory. Although they shot a mere 41.3 percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers, the difference was made at the foul line, where they outscored the Razorbacks, 18-11. Trevor Lacey nearly cost his team with seven turnovers, but helped make up for it by pouring in 14 points and grabbing six rebounds. Trevor Releford chipped in 12 points, and Nick Jacobs provided life off the bench with 10 points. The stout defense Alabama played on Thursday has become the norm for the squad, as it yields a low 58.5 ppg to its opponents. Pacing a scoring attack that nets 64.2 ppg is Releford (15.9 ppg), an efficient guard who shoots well from the field (.495) as well as the foul line (.854). Lacey has drained 38-of-91 from 3-point range en route to 12.2 ppg, and Rodney Cooper rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers with 10.6 ppg.
The Commodores dug themselves a 12-0 hole early in their game on Tuesday, but they were able to climb back into the contest and even led by as many as 11 points midway through the second half. Tennessee ended the game on a 17-5 run however, handing Vandy the tough one-point defeat. The 'Dores shot 42.9 percent from the field, a minor up-tick on its season average of 41 percent, and it was paced by 14 points from Kedren Johnson and 13 off the bench from Josh Henderson. On the season, only Georgia owns a worse scoring offense than Vanderbilt's 59.6 ppg, a number that all but spoils an impressive effort at the defensive end (61.6 ppg). Johnson is one of the better scorers in the SEC, ranking 10th in the conference with 14.8 ppg, while also putting up team-highs in assists (3.2 apg), steals (25) and 3-pointers (36). Kyle Fuller (9.9 ppg) and Rod Odom (9.3 ppg) are the only other Commodores evenly remotely consistent in the scoring column.
Points are sure to come at a premium in this contest, and even with Vanderbilt holding the home court advantage, Alabama has the upper-hand due to its more scoring options.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 63, Vanderbilt 58
02/02 10:45:23 ET