The Tide kept their winning ways on Thursday night with a 59-56 win against Arkansas to improve to 13-7 overall and 5-2 in the conference. The SEC’s third-place team will face a quick turn around when traveling to Nashville for a 3 PM CST tip off against Vanderbilt. The Commodores are in a rebuilding season after losing all five starters from their NCAA tournament team last season.
Kevin Stallings’s team is sitting in tenth place at 2-5 in the conference, with an 8-11 overall record. Vanderbilt is led by sophomore guard Kedren Johnson who averages 14 points per game and shoots 35 percent from 3-point range. Their frontcourt is led by junior forward Rod Odom. While only averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds, Odom has the potential to have a big game every time on the floor. His ability to score from anywhere on the floor can be difficult to guard while still trying to matchup with his size.
Anthony Grant has his team in position to make a run for an at-large bid for the tournament. The next eight games are very winnable for the Tide. However, Alabama can’t afford to drop another game they shouldn’t, as they did last Saturday in Knoxville. Moussa Gueye has continued to improve over the season, making himself a presence on the defensive end that makes an impact on opponents’ offenses.
Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey are still the top playmakers for the Tide. The two are up to averaging 39 points per game, and shoot a combined 43 percent from three-point territory. Andrew Steele has been the player to make the big baskets late in the game. His senior leadership isn’t shown in the stats but can easily be seen on the court.
The two teams have faced five common opponents this season in Villanova, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. The Commodores are 0-5 against these teams, averaging losing by 11 points. They’re fresh off of a 1-point loss at Tennessee, much like Alabama’s. The Tide are 4-2 against those teams, with an average margin of victory of 3 points.
ALABAMA LINEUP: G Trevor Lacey (6-3, So.), 12.2 ppg., 4.1 rpg.; G Trevor Releford (6-0, Jr.), 15.9 ppg., 2.6 assists; F Levi Randolph (6-5, So.), 8.1 ppg.; F Rodney Cooper (6-6, So.), 10.6 ppg., 4.1 rpg.; C Moussa Gueye (7-0, Jr.), 1.5 ppg., 4.4 rpg.
VANDERBILT LINEUP: G Kendren Johnson (6-4, So.), 14.8 ppg.; G Kevin Bright (6-5, Fr.), 6.6 ppg., 5.7 rpg.; G Dai-Jon Parker (6-3, So.), 6.1 ppg.; F James Siakam (6-7, So.), 2.3 ppg., 2.3 rpg.; F Rod Odom (6-9, Jr.), 6-9, 9.3 ppg., 4.0 rpg.
Prediction: Alabama 60, Vanderbilt 49