Second-Half Surge Carries Alabama Men’s Basketball to SEC Home Opener Win over Vanderbilt, 59-56
The Alabama men’s basketball team won its Southeastern Conference home opener in Coleman Coliseum Saturday night, 59-56, over Vanderbilt. The Crimson Tide outscored the Commodores 23-8 over the final 12:18 of the game to turn a 12-point deficit into a three-point victory.
Redshirt freshman Dazon Ingram finished with his second career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Ar’Mond Davis provided a second half spark as he led the Tide with 12 points off the bench over the final 20 minutes of action, while freshman Braxton Key pulled down a team-best 11 rebounds to go along with seven points. Senior Jimmie Taylor also added 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
“This was a big time win for us tonight,” head coach Avery Johnson. “I’m really proud of our guys – the way we withstood some adversity tonight. We struggled to score there for a big stretch, but we consistently played defense. Vanderbilt is a well-coached team in Coach (Bryce) Drew that has scored 80-plus points in some of their games. So for us to do the job we did defensively, I’m just proud of our guys. We’re not satisfied, we still got work to do, but our bench tonight came up big – 36 points from our bench. Ar’Mond Davis, Jimmie Taylor, Corban (Collins), Shannon (Hale) came up huge. We also dominated on the boards – 50 rebounds. I’d rather take this win having one more point than our opponents than losing it and having to figure out how we can improve.”
After entering halftime tied, 30-30, Vanderbilt opened the second half with 12 unanswered points over the first five minutes – all from beyond the three-point arc. Alabama trailed 46-32 when Davis hit a three-pointer from the corner while being fouled with 13:35 to play. Sparked by Davis’ four-point play, Alabama began a 21-3 run over the next 5:23, with Davis scoring all 12 of his points during the stretch.
With 8:43 to play, Alabama tied the game at 49-49 then took its first lead since the final minute of the first half less than a minute later. The Tide never trailed in the game again.
The first half featured nine lead changes. After Vanderbilt opened the game with six straight points in the first two minutes, the Tide used a 17-2 run to build a nine-point lead with 11:47 left in the first half. The Commodores answered with a 10-0 run of their own immediately after and regained the lead 18-17 with 7:26 left on the clock. The teams traded baskets down the stretch before finishing the half tied.
Closely matched from the field and from three-point range, Alabama owned a huge edge on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 50-35. That led the Tide to 18 second-chance points while limiting the Commodores to just eight. The Tide’s reserves outscored their counterparts, 36-12, with Davis’ effort matching the entire Vanderbilt bench’s scoring.
Alabama returns home on Jan. 10 to host No. 24 Florida on ESPNU. The Tide and Gators tip off at 8 p.m. CT.