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Alabama Men’s Basketball Begins Two-Game Road Swing at Vanderbilt on Saturday Night

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama men’s basketball team begins a two-game road swing when it travels to Nashville, Tenn., to square off at Vanderbilt on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network. It marks the first of two games played between the teams this season. The Commodores will make the return trip to Tuscaloosa two weeks later on Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. CT.

Alabama and Vanderbilt will play for the 139th time in series history when the two teams square off on Saturday night. It’s the ninth-most games against any single opponent in the UA record books. The teams have each won 69 games in the series (69-69) entering this weekend’s contest.

The Crimson Tide improved to 9-2 at home this season, including a 4-1 mark in SEC play, when it captured an 89-74 victory over Georgia last Wednesday night. Alabama scored the second-most points this season and collected its second-largest margin of victory in league play, while shooting a season-high 56.9 percent from the floor in the 15-point win. In fact, the Tide shot a scorching 61.5 percent in the second half which marked the first time since March 15, 2018 that UA shot better than 60 percent in a game. In that contest, Alabama used 60.9-percent shooting in the second against Virginia Tech to captured a first round NCAA Tournament win.

THE BROADCAST

Saturday’s game will air on SEC Network with Dave Neal (play-by-play) and Daymeon Fishback (analyst) on the call.

The radio broadcast can be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, Chris Stewart (play-by-play) and Bryan Passink (analyst) on the call. The pregame show will begin one hour prior to tipoff.

NOTES YOU NEED TO KNOW

Coming into Saturday night’s game at Vanderbilt, the Tide is ranked No. 45 in the latest NCAA Net Rankings (as of Feb. 7) and own the No. 16 overall strength of schedule, which ranks second among all SEC programs. Alabama has played a total of 14 games against Quadrant 1 (2-5) and Quadrant 2 (6-1) opponents this season and boasts a record of 8-6 in such contests. The eight combined wins rank third in the conference entering this weekend’s action, trailing only Tennessee (10-1), LSU (10-4), Kentucky (9-3) and Mississippi State (9-6). Moreover, Alabama six Q2 victories is tied for tops in the league while 14 combined contests against Q1 and Q2 teams is tied for second-best in the SEC.

The Alabama reserves have been a strength of this year’s team, averaging more than 27 points per contest (27.1) entering the contest at Vanderbilt. In fact, over the last nine games alone, the UA bench is averaging 31.9 points per game and have scored 33 points or more seven times over the nine-game stretch. For the year, the Crimson Tide bench has been outscored just three times on the season and is outscoring its counterparts by 8.0 points per contest (27.1-18.1).

The Crimson Tide owns a 9-2 record under the arched roof of Coleman Coliseum, with both defeats coming on buzzer-beating three-pointers. Most recently, Alabama fell to Texas A&M on Jan. 12 when TJ Starks drained an improbable shot from beyond the arc as the buzzer sounded, lifting the Aggies to an 81-80 victory. The other occurrence came back on Dec. 4 when Georgia State’s three-pointer at the buzzer gave the Panthers an 83-80 victory.

The Tide is one of the top rebounding teams in the nation entering the game against Vanderbilt. Alabama has won the rebounding battle in 17 of its 22 games this season. For the year, Alabama ranks fourth in the SEC and 44th nationally in rebounding margin (+5.0), outrebounding the opposition by an average of 38.5-33.5. In SEC games only, the Tide has outrebounded six of its nine league opponents and ranks fourth in the league in rebound margin at +3.8 (38.7-34.9).

Alabama closes its two-game road trip when it travels to Starkville, Miss., where it will take on No. 21 Mississippi State on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. CT on SEC Network. It will mark the second meeting of the year between the two teams. The Crimson Tide captured an 83-79 victory over the Bulldogs on Jan. 29 in Coleman Coliseum.

ABOUT ALABAMA

Alabama improved to 14-8 on the year and 5-4 in SEC play when it captured an 89-74 decision over Georgia on Wednesday night. The Crimson Tide held a three-point lead (41-38) at intermission but shot 61.5 percent from the floor and 50 percent (4-of-8) from beyond the arc in the second half to outscored the Bulldogs, 48-36, over the final 20 minutes of play.

Freshman guard Kira Lewis Jr. leads a balanced scoring attack that features eight Alabama players averaging at least 6.0 points per game, while 10 players are averaging double-digit minutes. Three UA players average in double figured as Lewis’ 14.1 points per game tops the Tide and ranks 11th in the SEC. Sophomore John Petty Jr., who leads the Tide and ranks 20th in the league in SEC play with 14.0 ppg, ranks second on the team at 11.9 ppg, while senior Donta Hall is collecting 11.1 points per game.

Lewis leads UA in assists (2.9 apg), steals (20), minutes (30.8) and free throw shooting (64-of-79, .810), while ranking second in threes made (34) and attempted (92). Meanwhile, Hall tops the team in total dunks (44), rebounds (8.9 rpg), blocks (1.9 bpg), double-figure contests (16) and double-doubles (10). He currently ranks among the league leaders in double-doubles (1st), rebounding (3rd) and blocked shots (T8th). Petty leads the Tide in three-point field goals made (43) and attempted (124) and ranks second on the team in minutes (29.0) and in rebounding (4.2).

Junior Tevin Mack, who scored a season-high 25 points in the win over Georgia, is averaging 9.1 ppg, while junior Dazon Ingram (7.4 ppg), senior Riley Norris (6.3 ppg) and sophomores Herbert Jones (6.3 ppg) and Alex Reese (6.0 ppg) are all averaging at least six points per contest. Ingram tops the team in three-point shooting (11-of-25, .440), while Norris is second (15-of-39, 38.5 percent) over his 13 games played. Meanwhile Jones, who is considered one of the top defenders in the Southeastern Conference, tops UA with 16 charges taken and is second in steals (19).

As a team, Alabama enters Saturday’s contest as one of the top rebounding teams in the nation. The Tide has outrebounded 17 of its 22 opponents on the year and ranks third in the SEC and 44th nationally with a 5.0 advantage on the glass (38.1-33.1). UA is shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 34.0 percent from beyond the arc on the year, while outscoring the competition by 3.4 points per game (75.9-72.5).

Through nine games in conference play, Petty leads the team in scoring at 14.0 ppg and has knocked down 39.6 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (21-of-53). Meanwhile, Hall is averaging a double-double at 11.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game – a number that tops the SEC in conference games only. Lewis is scoring 12.8 ppg in league play and tops the team in steals (8). Ingram (3.0 apg) leads the Tide in assists per game through nine SEC games.

As a team in league play, Alabama leads the league in defensive rebounds per game (27.1) and ranks second in the SEC in rebounding offense (38.7). The Tide also ranks among the league leaders in blocked shots (3rd - 4.9), rebounding margin (4th - +3.8), scoring margin (5th - +2.0), scoring defense (5th - 73.9), three-point field goal percentage defense (5th - .329) and offensive rebounds per game (5th - 11.6).

ABOUT VANDERBILT

Vanderbilt dropped its 10th consecutive contest, and ninth straight to begin SEC play, with a narrow defeat at Arkansas, 69-66, last Tuesday night in Fayetteville, Ark. With the defeat, the Commodores fell to 9-13 on the year and 0-9 in SEC play. Six of Vandy’s nine league losses were by 10 points or less, including a narrow overtime loss at home against No. 1 Tennessee on Jan. 23 (88-83).

Vanderbilt was led on the year by freshman sensation Darius Garland, however, a knee injury just five games into the season sidelined the 6-2 guard for the rest of the year. Sophomore guard Saben Lee, who scored 23 points against the Tide in last year’s meeting, tops the team with an average of 13.5 points, 3.9 assists and 0.9 steals per contest. Lee does a lot of his damage at the charity stripe, leading the team in free throws made (114) and attempted (162).

Freshmen Simisola Shittu (12.0 ppg) and Aaron Nesmith (10.5 ppg) also average in double figures entering Saturday night’s contest. Shittu tops the team with 7.1 rebounds per game and in field goals made (97) and attempted (203). Meanwhile, Nesmith is second on the team in rebounding (5.5 rpg) and tied for the team lead in blocks (13).

As a team, Vandy is outscoring the opposition by +0.5 points (73.9-73.4) and owns a +1.1 advantage on the glass (36.1-35.0). The Commodores are shooting 44.2 percent from the floor, 33.7 percent from beyond the arc and 68.4 percent from the charity stripe on the season.

Head Coach Bryce Drew officially became the 27th head coach in Vanderbilt history on April 6, 2015. Now in his third season, Drew led the Commodores to the NCAA Tournament in his first season in Nashville, marking the first time in the history of the program a first-year Vanderbilt coach led his team to the tournament. Drew owns a record of 40-49 (.449) at Vandy and a 164-98 (.626) in seven seasons as a head coach.

ALABAMA-VANDERBILT – SERIES NOTES

Alabama and Vanderbilt will play for the 139th time in series history when the two teams square off on Saturday night. It’s the ninth-most games against any single opponent in the UA record books. The teams have each won 69 games in the series (69-69) entering this weekend’s contest.

It’s the first of two meetings the rivals will play this season. In just two weeks from Saturday, Vanderbilt will make the return trip to Tuscaloosa when it meets Alabama on Saturday, Feb. 23. That contest will tip off at 5 p.m. CT and will be televised on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Alabama and Vanderbilt played only once last season, with the Commodores taking a narrow 76-75 decision in Memorial Gym. The Tide trailed by as many as 15 points early in the second half before a furious rally in the final minutes fell just short. The box score and full recap from that contest can be found on page 11.

Fourteen of the last 15 games played between the two teams have been decided by 10 or fewer points, with nine of those contests being decided by five or fewer points.

Alabama has a record of 21-44 when playing Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Tide has only won at Vanderbilt just one time since 1990 (58-54 on Feb. 2, 2013), going 1-13 in its last 14 games in Memorial Gym.

There have been 11 overtime contests in series history, with Vanderbilt winning seven of those games (7-4).

The series began during 1923-24 campaign.

NCAA TOURNAMENT RESUME

Heading into Saturday’s game, Alabama is a combined 8-6 against Q1 and Q2 teams, owning 2-5 mark against Quadrant 1 opponents and a 6-1 record vs. teams in Quadrant 2 this season. Combined, UA’s 8 wins against Q1 and Q2 opposition this year trails only Tennessee (10), LSU (10), Kentucky (9) and Mississippi State (9).

UA enters the game at Vandy with a NET Ranking of No. 45 nationally, while owning the No. 16 overall strength of schedule, which ranks second among all SEC teams (Texas A&M owns the No. 4 overall SOS). More importantly, Alabama’s average of its 14 NET wins is 112.5, which ranks first in the SEC and eighth-best in the nation.

Of the Tide’s remaining nine regular season contests, four are projected to be against Q1 opposition, while four will be against Q2 teams.

Alabama has played a total of 14 games against Q1 and Q2 opponents which is second-best in the SEC. Only Mississippi State (15) has played more, while UA is tied with LSU, Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt with 14 such contests.

Alabama’s three Quadrant 4 opponents is the lowest number among SEC schools (tied with LSU).

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