A very disappointing 1 point loss at home to a pretty good Vandy team. It was a fun game to watch, as both teams left everything on the floor, but poor free throw shooting, untimely turnovers, and inconsistent officiating were too much to overcome.
The game started about as good as we could hope for. We forced some early turnovers, held Vandy to one shot on their end of the floor, and we were making pretty much everything we put up. We were able to build a 9-0 lead right off the bat. We seemed to have more success when we were able to set up our press and push the ball on offense. Vandy plays more uptempo than they have in years past, but I thought it was to their advantage when we got into more of a halfcourt type of game. They ran a lot of 2-3 zone and we didn't really have an answer for it. It was a frustrating day for our post players as we really were not able to get them the ball. We needed more than 1 for 6 from 3 point range out of Charvez Davis this game. They killed us on the offensive boards in the second half, which was another huge factor in them getting back into the game.
Both teams had some foul trouble to deal with, but it seemed to effect our play more. Hillman fouled out with around 4 minutes left, and it would have been really nice to have him in there to possibly create a shot at the end of the game. Green and Torrance also were forced to play with 4 fouls. Torrance handled it very well and he is the main reason we were able to stay in the game. We were able to get Ogilvy in foul trouble but the officials refused to call him for his 5th.
Tony Mitchell also had a very good game. He had a couple of amazing dunks, and made one of the best hustle plays I have ever seen in the first half. He blocked a shot, then ran to the corner and saved his own blocked shot from going out of bounds by diving over the Alabama bench. We got into transition, and he realized he would be way behind the play if he re-entered the playing area in the backcourt, so he ran behind the scorer's table and jumped over the Vandy bench to get back into the play.
The officiating was inconsistent at best. We shot only 17 free throws to Vandy's 37. Nevertheless, if we shoot better than 58% from the line, we would have won the game. Vandy was even worse from the line shooting only 54%. In fairness to the officials, that was a very difficult game to call. It was very physical on both ends and was played at a fairly quick pace. Early on they were letting them play, which worked to our advantage, but I think they feared they were losing control of the game so they started calling it very tight, and in the process they were anticipating and calling fouls that never happened. Part of the reason Vandy was able to get to the line more than us was because they attacked the basket more whereas we were settling for jump shots. Nevertheless, 37 FTs to 17? C'mon man!
We were in control most of the game, with our 10 point lead being cut to 3 or 4 before we would stretch it back out again. Vandy finally tied the game with about 6 minutes left, and I knew we were in for a struggle from that point on. The last few minutes was back and forth with a constant parade to the charity stripe. Vandy had the ball with a tie game and a chance for the last shot, but we were called for a foul with 6 seconds left. I hope Alias will comment about that call, as it happened on his end of the court and he likely had a much better view of it than I did, but there did not seem to be a lot of contact from my angle. Certainly not enough to make the call in that situation. Down 1, we allowed Brock to drive in and put up a shot hoping for a foul call or a 2nd chance opportunity. There was definitely some contact, and normally I wouldn't expect to be bailed out in that situation, but given the fact that we were playing at home, and considering the foul they had just called on us with 6 seconds left, I don't think it was unreasonable to expect a whistle in that situation.
There was a solid crowd despite the late tip-off. Student turnout was fantastic, even above capacity for the student section. They should offer free pizza and Tshirts more often. I would estimate a total crowd of around 8,500 or so. Up next, we go to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Their poor record is deceiving, as they have played most of the year with a number of player's suspended. Those players, including Courtney Fortson are back, and they played top ranked Texas close in their last game. Tip off is set for 12:30 Central time Saturday and will be televised on the SEC network. I will try to post a report from Fayetteville.