Nashville, TN– Alabama and Vanderbilt met in Nashville tonight, with both teams trying to get hot before the SEC tournament in tw2 weeks. Vanderbilt, coming off a home win against Texas A&M, was looking to secure their fifth straight home win, while owning the tiebreaker over Alabama with a win. Alabama on the other hand is coming off a loss to Kentucky on the road. Both teams have been inconsistent this season, but you could sense going in that both teams needed a win badly. Both teams fought, clawed, and went back and forth the majority of the game. However, it was Jahvon Quinerly’s 17 second half points that helped the Tide roll, leading to the win in the final seconds, 74-72. Quinerly finished with 19 points. Vandy’s Scotty Pippen Jr. led all scorers with 26 points, getting to the foul line 18 times.
Vanderbilt came out of the gates as the more aggressive team, with Pippen Jr. scoring early and coming up with two big steals to set the tone. Alabama shot poorly from 3 during the first 10 or so minutes of the game, while star freshman JD Davison (10 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, three steals) struggled finding shooters and getting into a flow, committing five turnovers in the first half. Minnesota transfer Liam Robbins (16 points), who has only played a handful of games this season with Vanderbilt, had another impressive first half, knocking down two three pointers, altering shots at the rim, and being a real presence inside; something Vanderbilt has lacked all season. At the half, Vanderbilt led 37-32, although, they should’ve been up much more than that. Having basically outplayed Alabama the whole first half, Vanderbilt only had a 5-point lead due to Alabama’s 9-3 offensive rebound advantage that led to numerous second chance points, as well as halting Vanderbilt’s momentum.
The second half began with Alabama being the team with more energy, especially on defense and in transition. Quinerly, who didn’t play much and only scored two points in the first half, kicked into a different gear once he got the ball. He was aggressive every single possession on both sides of the ball. After being down by eight at the under 16 timeout, Alabama took off, with Quinerly leading them. Quinerly hit back-to-back threes to cut the lead to two, and from then on, Alabama attacked the offensive glass with force, having back-to-back possessions of offensive rebounds that led to and-one’s. Alabama had a 24-8 run to take an 11-point lead with less than six minutes to play.
With the game in doubt after such a promising start from Vanderbilt, Pippen Jr had one more run left in him. At this point in the second half, Pippen Jr had not scored a single point. He then showed off his elite handle, hesitation, patience, and footwork, scoring 13 points in a little over three minutes to cut the Alabama lead to two points with a chance to tie or win the game. With 20 seconds to go however, Pippen Jr surprisingly didn’t touch the ball on the team’s final possession. It was starting forward Jordan Wright who had a clear path to the basket and missed a potential game tying layup with four seconds left. Vanderbilt would not have a chance to foul, with Alabama running the clock out in a heartbreaking loss for Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt (14-13, 6-9) will head to Mississippi State on Saturday to try to get back in the win column, while Alabama (18-10. 8-7) will travel back home to Tuscaloosa, looking to continue their momentum against South Carolina.