By Drew Hill
Special to Tidesports.com
The Alabama women’s basketball was disappointed Sunday when it didn’t get the first-round bye in the SEC Tournament, but it’s hard to argue the Crimson Tide didn’t end up in the appropriate position.
Coach Kristy Curry’s team will take on Vanderbilt to begin the SEC Tournament on Wednesday in Greenville, South Carolina, almost exactly one month after losing to the Commodores at the end of January.
Vanderbilt has been an interesting team in the conference this season, at least from Alabama’s standpoint. In many ways the Commodores are similar to Alabama. Vanderbilt boasts wins over Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and LSU inside of the conference, but all four wins came at home in Memorial Gymnasium.
Last season, Alabama also went the entire schedule without an SEC road victory, but ended that losing streak with a win over Ole Miss just two games into conference play this year.
The Commodores and Crimson Tide also match up in plenty of statistical categories. Alabama is shooting 40 percent from the field to average 68 points per game, while Vanderbilt is scoring at a 41 precent clip for 69.
Balanced scoring has been a theme for the Commodores and Crimson Tide this season. Both teams have at least four players that average nine points per game. Alabama is led in scoring by junior guard Meoshonti Knight at 11.3 points per game, and Vanderbilt’s junior guard Rachel Bell leads her team with 10.6.
To continue the deadlock in the stat book, turnovers have hurt both teams this season on the scoreboard. Alabama is averaging 17 turnovers per game—four more than Curry’s goal of 13—and Vanderbilt’s 18 turnovers per game is even worse. However, the first time these two teams played, both finished below season average in turnovers.
Perimeter shooters Hannah Cook and Christa Reed play a large role in the balanced scoring on both sides. Reed is shooting 44.6 percent from the 3-point line this season, good enough for third in the conference. Cook on the other hand, has shot and made more 3-point baskets than the entire SEC. The two guards will likely matchup against one another on the wing.
A win on Wednesday would be a resume booster for Alabama in its search for a postseason bid to the NIT Women’s Tournament. Alabama was bounced in the first round of the NIT last season by Tulane.