Alabama basketball collapses in second half vs. Vanderbilt, goes one-and-done in SEC Tournament

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

TAMPA — Alabama basketball better figure out how to play a complete game quick or the NCAA Tournament will have the same result for the Crimson Tide as the SEC Tournament.  

No. 6-seed Alabama basketball grabbed a comfortable lead and then got comfortable while 11th-seeded Vanderbilt fought back to win 82-76 in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday at Amalie Arena. 

Vanderbilt outscored Alabama 54-38 in the second half. 

The loss marks the third in a row in which Alabama has lost a game to an SEC opponent that it entered as the favorite. The Crimson Tide at one point held a 15-point lead with 14 minutes left against Vanderbilt. 

Here are observations and takeaways from the SEC Tournament game between Alabama (19-13) and Vanderbilt (17-15):

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Vanderbilt breaks out of free-throw offense

For a while, it looked like there was no chance Vanderbilt was going to be able to keep pace with Alabama's offense by using free throws as the primary source of points. 

The Commodores seemed allergic to any kind of field goal for much of the first half. They had hit only 6-of-23 from the field heading into halftime. 

In the first half alone, Vanderbilt hit double the number of free throws as field goals. The Commodores sank 13-of-18 free-throws while struggling to shoot from the floor. 

At one point in the first half, Vanderbilt went almost seven minutes without a bucket. 

Surprisingly, that wasn't a winning formula for the Commodores. Not so long as Alabama wasn't turning the ball over and scoring with enough regularity. 

The Crimson Tide hit twice as many field goals as Vanderbilt in the first half to build a 38-28 lead at halftime. 

But Vanderbilt proved it can actually hit more than free throws. 

The Commodores hit 7 of 12 field goals in about a six-minute span in the second half to make the game competitive again. Vanderbilt grabbed its first lead of the game at 57-56 with 8:56 left thanks to two Scotty Pippen Jr. free throws. 

Pippen led all scorers with 26 points. Fifteen of those were via free throws, but he started shooting better from the floor in the second half. He went 1-for-9 from the field in the first half but finished with five buckets. 

Vanderbilt finished shooting better than Alabama in field-goal percentage (40% to 36%) and 3-point field goals (35% to 24%). 

Foul trouble hurts Alabama guards

Jaden Shackelford was having a terrific game for a while. 

He hit four 3-pointers in the first half for 14 points. But with 10:55 left in the second half, Shackelford picked up his fourth foul of the game. 

That added more problems for Alabama with starting point guard Jahvon Quinerly already picking up two fouls in the first nine minutes of the game. 

At one point in the second half, Alabama had all three starting guards, Shackelford, Quinerly and Keon Ellis, with four fouls. 

Quinerly fouled out in the final 90 seconds of the game. Shackelford fouled out with 45 seconds left. 

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt climbed back into the game. The Crimson Tide couldn't find consistent scoring with the guards in foul trouble. 

Alabama can't keep up at free-throw line with Vanderbilt

The Crimson Tide entered the game third in the SEC in free-throw percentage at 73.8%. 

Alabama couldn't find that level of success against Vanderbilt. And the Crimson Tide could have certainly used those points with its starting guards in foul trouble and issues hitting 3-pointers. 

Alabama finished 20-for-34 from the foul line for 59%. Vanderbilt went 31-for-45 for 69%. 

Up next

Alabama will have to watch the rest of the conference tournament as it awaits its NCAA Tournament fate. The Crimson Tide's seeding, opponent and destination will be announced Sunday. 

Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly.