It seems like an eternity since we’ve watched Bama Hoops take the court. A postponement of the Texas A&M matchup offered Alabama some extra, perhaps unnecessary time off for an offense that has regained its rhythm, but it also provided time for the likes of Herbert Jones, Juwan Gary and Jordan Bruner to heal up a bit. As per usual Vanderbilt has gotten hot in February just in time to visit Tuscaloosa . Alabama will be looking to place itself on the doorstep of clinching the SEC title with a win. Tip is set for 11:00 on SECN.
The Opponent: Vanderbilt comes into the contest sitting at 114 in KENPOM and sporting a 6-11 record. Having recently won tilts against South Carolina and at Mississippi State, the Commodores have looked solid as of late. It’s all started on the perimeter for Vanderbilt as the recipe is fairly simple for Jerry Stackhouse’s club; If the 3s are falling, they compete. If the Dores can’t consistently hit from the perimeter, they’re usually in for a long 40 minutes.
Vanderbilt is also at the bottom of the SEC in 3pt defense and that doesn’t bode well against a team like Alabama.
Players to Watch : Much to the delight of Alabama fans, the Tide won’t have to contend with the likes of Saben Lee tomorrow as he is currently a member of the Detroit Pistons program. Lee dropped 38 in Tuscaloosa last year and singlehandedly decimated Alabama’s hopes for an at-large bid. However, his partner in crime Scottie Pippen Jr has taken the reigns and is beginning to lead the program nicely. Pippen is one of only 2 players in the league averaging 20+ points and 5+ assists per game. One would expect Herbert and JP to spend the majority of time defending Pippen who is most dangerous in the half court set. Bama will want to make Vanderbilt try and run with them in order to keep Pippen and his pals out of sync in the half court.
It’s once again difficult to point the finger at only one Alabama player as 5 men in crimson and white reached double figures last weekend against Georgia. Herbert Jones displayed on of the finer games you’ll ever see played on the collegiate level and proved that he is simply a different animal when he’s healthy. His back has been given an entire week of rest this time so one would only expect Jones to continue to improve. I’m also going to have my eye on Joshua Primo. The super freshman didn’t score a single point in the first half last week, yet ended with 19 in only 11 minutes of work. Again....Vandy’s perimeter defense has been suspect. Primo, Petty, Shackleford and Quinerly could all have big days behind the arc.
My Thoughts: I simply don’t believe Vanderbilt can score enough in this game. The Alabama offense is returning to form and the guards are shooting with confidence again. Defense has slipped a bit as of late-enough to drop the Tide out of the top spot in KENPOM’s defensive efficiency stat. Vandy will score at times but Bama will likely have a few too many offensive spurts to allow the Commodores to keep it very close. The SEC Championship is so close that the Tide can taste it. I expect them to be hungry and show it.
Prediction: Alabama 82 Vanderbilt 72