In a week of streaks, the University of Alabama extended a mini-streak two years in the making, winning for the second straight time at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium with a 77-62 victory over the Commodores.
It was the largest margin of victory for Alabama on the Vanderbilt home floor since an 81-56 win in 1985. It was also the Crimson Tide’s first “true” road win of the season.
John Petty led Alabama (11-7, 4-2 SEC) with a double-double, scoring 23 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, Petty had 17 of his 23 points in the first half.
Vanderbilt was well within range with just over 16 minutes to play, trailing by four points, 39-35. But like a boxer delivering a one-punch knockout, Alabama went on a 14-0 run in less than three minutes. Beetle Bolden led that run with a pair of 3-pointers and a crisp assist to Kira Lewis. pushing the lead to 18 points and coasting home, despite some occasional sloppiness.
“I thought the difference in that stretch was that we showed some energy,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “If you play hard, get deflections and focus on defense, your offense is going to follow. If you stand around thinking about your offense, it’s probably not going to be very good.”
That inconsistency was made manifest by 25 Crimson Tide turnovers, although UA was able to overcome those with a strong rebounding edge (51-32).
“We were glad to win but we gave them nearly 40 percent of their points (23) off our turnovers. Some of them were baffling, just throwing the ball to them on outlet passes and things like that.
“We’ve got to get them fixed or we won’t win many more.”
“We were trying to push the pace but we weren’t playing very smart,” Petty said. “It’s nothing we can’t fix.”
Alabama made seven of its 16 3-point attempts in the first half but the Crimson Tide’s 15 turnovers led to 13 Vanderbilt points and allowed the Commodores to stay close. UA led by 12 points, 31-19, when Petty hit his fifth 3-point shot of the half with 6:15 to play.
Vanderbilt cut into the lead as Alabama cooled off and took only a six-point edge, 37-31, at halftime. The Commodores missed their first eight 3-point attempts, extending a school record streak to 37 straight misses, but made three 3-pointers down the stretch.
Dylan Disu led Vanderbilt (8-10, 0-5 SEC) with a career-high 21 points. Saben Lee added 19 for the Commodores.
Lewis had 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Alabama. Jaden Shackelford added 15 for the Crimson Tide, which returns to action on Saturday when it hosts Kansas State as part of the SEC/Big XII Challenge.
The Crimson Tide may be without backup center Javian Davis for that contest. Davis injured a knee with five minutes remaining and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday morning to determine the extent of the injury.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @Cecilhurt.