Jan 7, 2014; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide Trevor Releford (12) defends Vanberbilt Commodores guard Kyle Fuller (11) at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Opens Conference Play With Win Over Vanderbilt, 68-63

The Alabama Crimson Tide (7-7, 1-0 SEC) notched its first SEC victory on the opening night of conference play against the Vanderbilt Commodores (8-5, 0-1 SEC) on Tuesday night.

The Tide opened up their conference schedule with a game that seemed to highlight the feel of the 2013-2014 season. Alabama jumped out to an early lead and controlled most of the game, but the Commodores were able to close the gap late in the second half. Due in part to one of Alabama’s signature scoring droughts Vanderbilt’s defense and outside shooters closed a double digit lead and nearly came back to win.

Senior guard Trevor Releford led the way for the Tide with 16 points and 6 assists. Freshman Shannon Hale posted a new career-high of 15 points and was an efficient 6-8 from the floor. Retin Obasohan finished with 15 points and Levi Randolph added 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Randolph also was responsible for the top play of this young SEC season. He hammered down a long alley-oop with authority.

Alabama’s active defense proved to be an issue for Vanderbilt in the early going, but that didn’t stop Rob Odom.

Odom notched his first double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds. 15 of his 20 points came from outside the arc. Damian Jones and Kyle Fuller added 16 and 15 points respectively for the Commodores.

Vanderbilt was forced to play without leading scorer Eric McClellan who didn’t make the trip to Tuscaloosa. No reason was given for his absence. Without McClellan, Vanderbilt was reduced to only seven scholarship players.

Once again, the Tide proved that their offense flows best in transition. Alabama was able to win the turnover battle 16-8 and many of those turnovers ended with points in transition. Alabama’s success in SEC play will solely rely on turning turnovers into points.

Alabama will travel to Stegeman Coliseum to face the Georgia Bulldogs (6-6) on Saturday at 3 pm. Television coverage will be provided by SEC TV and the WatchESPN app. As always, radio coverage will be provided by your local CTSN affiliate.

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