Friday, January 15, 2016

Game Preview - at Vanderbilt

Alabama heads to the house of horrors known as Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday to play the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Dores were a preseason AP team, but a season's worth of ups-and-downs through the first 16 games has left Vandy with a record of 9-7 (1-3 in conference play), and in real danger of falling out of postseason contention. For those of you not making the trip to Nashville, you can see it on the SEC Network. Tip time is 5:00 PM.



66.5 PPG 78.9
65.3 OPP 65.5
.431 FG% .471
.398 OPP .371
.347 3PT% .402
.331 OPP .272
.660 FT% .712
.681 OPP .687
33.8 RPG 38.8
37.5 OPP 37.0
14.3 TOPG 12.4
13.7 OPP 11.7

As usual, Vanderbilt will have multiple great shooters on the perimeter. Wade Baldwin IV (.458%), Riley LaChance (.412%), Matthew Fisher-Davis (.485%) and Jeff Roberson (.462%) are all capable of burying Alabama from the 3-point line. Alabama's perimeter defense must be up to the task in limiting dribble penetration and challenging the Vandy shooters to make tough, contested shots.

Damian Jones (13.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg) came into the season as an SEC Player of the Year candidate and a projected 1st round draft pick. His numbers have been good, but he's struggled to stay on the floor due to foul trouble. Nevertheless, he may be, pound for pound, the best player on the floor. Luke Kornet (9.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg) was slowed by a knee injury that forced him to miss five games, but appears to be rounding into shape after posting a triple double in their last game against Auburn. While his 3 point shooting numbers are down (only making 24% of his attempts), he is capable of making that shot. He will be a tough match-up for our guys at the 4.

Vandy has been a solid defensive team so points may be hard to come by for Alabama; however, they have struggled on the glass so Alabama will have a fair chance to win the rebounding battle for the second straight game. In a game between two good defensive teams, second chance opportunities will be huge. Alabama has been prone to settling for 3 point shots, but I think they need to take the ball to the rim early in this one in an effort to exploit Jones' tendency to get into foul trouble. Four of the next six games for Alabama will be on the road. To keep themselves in the SEC and postseason conversation, Alabama will have to find a way to win conference road games. Alabama has played well away from Coleman this season so I believe all four games are winnable.

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