Alabama basketball will be short-handed again vs. the Vanderbilt Commodores in another in the string of Crimson Tide must-win games.
Nate Oats has been preaching to the Alabama basketball team and that is a good thing. The message of “pride coming before a fall” is a good admonition and applicable for a team that might ease up a bit against a less successful opponent.
Oats has also been stressing hope for an NCAA Tournament bid if his team can win its last two regular-season games, giving it a 10-8 SEC record. He pointed out two SEC teams with 10-8 records received No. 5 and No. 8 seeds last year. He knows more work will be needed in Nashville, but did not elaborate on how many SEC Tourney wins would also be needed.
The Alabama basketball team knows the situation. A win over Vandy will not do much to enhance NCAA chances. A lost would destroy those chances unless the Crimson Tide could win the SEC Tournament.
Vanderbilt is 9-20 on the season and 1-15 in the SEC. The Dores have lost seven of their last eight games. The single win was over LSU. There were also a couple of close losses, four points in Knoxville and a two-pointer in Nashville on a last-second heave by a Georgia Bulldog.
The Dores probably cannot beat the Tide without big games from guards Saben Lee and Scotty Pippen Jr. The pair combined for 54 points in the Georgia loss. Then again, game favorites can find ways to beat themselves and the Crimson Tide is vulnerable to such a result.
Can Javian Davis again fill in for the points normally produced by John Petty Jr.? Jon Rothstein reported
Petty is “doubtful to play tonight” but “possible on Saturday” and “likely for the SEC Tournament.”
It is a mistake to assume Petty’s absence does not matter. Along with the predictable contributions of Kira Lewis Jr., Herbert Jones and Jaden Shackelford, others must step up. Davis, Alex Reese and Beetle Bolden must provide points and just as importantly solid defense, rebounding, and few turnovers. Minutes off the bench for Jaylen Forbes and Galin Smith must be productive minutes, especially on the glass.
As Selection Sunday rapidly approaches, the Crimson Tide may need some help. More than a couple of teams above it in the at-large bid queue must falter down the stretch.