The adage doesn’t always work but for Alabama basketball on Saturday, less was more.
The “less”was less substitution as the Crimson Tide used just eight players against Vanderbilt and, while some fatigue was showing at the end, a fast start gave UA enough momentum for a 68-61 victory against the Commodores at Coleman Coliseum.
Kira Lewis (37 minutes), Donta Hall (35) and Dazon Ingram (35) each played a season-high number of minutes. Hall (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Ingram (13 points and 10 rebounds) each responded with double-double performances while Lewis led all scorers with 19 points.
“Sometimes we’ll have some momentum and sub some guys in and we take a 180-degree turn,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “We got off to a good start with our lineup and decided to go with it. It just kind of worked out that way.”
The Crimson Tide led 31-9 with 6:50 remaining in the first half and appeared headed for a monumental blowout. The lead was up to 23 points at one juncture in the second half, with Alabama holding a 57-34 advantage with 10:41 to play.
Vanderbilt then went on a 15-0 run to cut the Crimson Tide lead with 5:15 to play but Alabama held on thanks largely to Herbert Jones. The sophomore scored all five of his points and had two critical steals as UA staved off the Commmodore rally.
“We had a substantial lead and they didn’t quit,” Johnson said. “Give them credit. But for our guys, this was a tough spot to be in. I don’t know if any team had as much pressure on us to win a Southeastern Conference game today as we did.
“Was it perfect? No. The problem was the last 10 minutes, just like our last game (a loss at Texas A&M) but we will get that addressed.”
Hall set the tone early with two powerful blocked shots, including one on a Saben Lee dunk attempt.
“We had to come out and bring the energy,” Hall said. “Blocking shots is what I do. It’s second nature. So we needed that.
“In the second half, we slacked up a little bit so we’ve got to keep that energy that we had in the first half.”
“I thought the big difference in the game was shooting,” said Vanderbilt coach Scott Drew. “We watched them on tape and some of the shots they were missing before, they made them tonight. They came out on fire. But our team hung in there..”
Simisola Shittu led Vanderbilt (9-15, 0-14 SEC) with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Alabama will be back in action on Tuesday, playing at South Carolina.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.