What We Learned: Vandy holds on for 76-75 win over Alabama

In Features by Philip Williams

Vanderbilt captured a 76-75 victory over Alabama on Tuesday in Nashville.

Here are some thoughts on what we learned from the game.

Vandy Can Still Shoot It

The Commodores’ 3-point shooting percentage is inching closer to what everyone knew was the true average.

Riley LaChance, Jeff Roberson, and Matthew Fisher-Davis have been good shooters from Day 1 in Nashville.  Shooting is all muscle memory and shooters don’t suddenly become lousy at shooting, which is why not a single coach in the SEC will be fooled by Vanderbilt’s paltry 33 percent team 3-point percentage.

On Tuesday night, Fisher-Davis didn’t start because he had missed some practices with an illness, but he came alive in the first half in knocking down three shots from deep.

LaChance was just 2 of 3 from beyond the arc but he absolutely sauced up Dazon Ingram for one of them to stymie one of Alabama’s late runs.

Even Roberson, who moved inside for much of the night, buried both of his triples.

I’m still not sold on Vanderbilt after tonight, but they will beat a few teams they shouldn’t because of a hot shooting night or two.

Alabama Should Attack the Rim

They say that good defense travels, but as far as offense goes, getting to the basket is a solid approach to winning on the road.

After going into the half down 11 and looking for answers, the Tide attacked the rim more aggressively, and shot 58 percent in the second half as a result.

Collin Sexton is obviously an animal when in attack mode, but Alabama made driving to the bucket a team approach in the second half and got easy baskets for Donta Hall, who finished a perfect 6 for 6 from the field.

Amazingly, Bama shot 50 percent from the field and 86 percent from the line for the game and lost. They won’t lose many SEC games if they can replicate those numbers.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the Tide on Tuesday night though.

Alabama has just one win at Memorial Gym in the last 28 years, so a losing at Vandy isn’t surprising to Tide fans.

Braxton Key is Slowly Getting Back to Normal

A member of the All-SEC freshmen team a year ago, Key looked flat out bad in his first game back against Mercer and hasn’t looked all that great in the three games since then either.

But last night, Key made some big time plays to help Alabama.

He had two great assists, one for an easy transition dunk for Herbert Jones and an alley-oop to Donta Hall.

Also, late in the half, when the Tide was making its final run, Key made an acrobatic rebound and managed to outlet the ball before traveling.

His length gave Vandy trouble at the end of the game as well, creating turnovers that almost cost the Commodores the game.

After leading the Tide in scoring last season, Key hasn’t set the world on fire on offense yet, finishing with 9 points on 3 of 8 shooting last night.

However, his value to this years’ team won’t have to be in the scoring department.  With senior glue guy Riley Norris done for the season, Key will have to be the guy to make the winning plays in the most important moments—loose balls, charges, dirty rebounds, and deflections.

His play on Tuesday suggests he has the ability to do just that.

I’m a librarian and junior high boys basketball coach. My obsession with SEC basketball has grown so ludicrous that I won’t take another varsity hoops job because I’d miss almost all of conference play. I cover general SEC for Southeast Hoops.