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Undermanned Vanderbilt Can't Keep Up, Loses to Alabama 68-63 in SEC Opener

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Vanderbilt proved they could compete with Alabama early, but the team's lack of depth sunk them as the Crimson Tide pulled away for a 68-63 win on Tuesday. The Commodores had just seven scholarship players available due to leading scorer Eric McClellan's suspension.

Rod Odom is realizing his potential as a senior for the 'Dores.
Rod Odom is realizing his potential as a senior for the 'Dores.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt had the talent to keep up with an improved Crimson Tide team, just not the depth. The Commodores hung with Alabama through the first half and rallied back from a big deficit in the second, but their lack of ballhandlers ultimately sunk them in a 68-63 loss on Tuesday night.

After leading scorer Eric McClellan was cryptically removed from the team, Vanderbilt didn't have the horses to keep up with the Tide in Tuscaloosa. McClellan, who had averaged 14.3 points per game in his first year with the team, did not travel with the team for the game. His absence left Vandy with just two scholarship guards in the backcourt, and the team's lack of cohesive was apparent as the 'Dores committed 16 turnovers in the loss.

Vanderbilt kept this game close in the first half, exchanging leads with Alabama early on before a 16-6 run gave the Tide a 36-26 halftime lead. 'Bama extended that lead to 16 early in the second half before the 'Dores cut that lead back down to three points with two minutes to play behind the veteran play of Kyle Fuller and Rod Odom. The duo combined for 14 points in a 21-9 Vanderbilt run that made this a one-possession contest as the game clock wore down.

However, a gassed Vandy team couldn't capitalize on the opportunities that Anthony Grant's team gave them. Retin Obasohan, a 25% three-point shooter, hit a dagger three to push the Alabama lead to six points and effectively shut the door on Fuller and Odom's comeback effort.

Odom led all scorers with 20 points on 5-8 shooting and added 10 rebounds to notch the double-double. Damian Jones added 16 and Fuller had 15 in the loss. Trevor Releford had 16 points and was one of four Tide players to score in double figures on the night.

The loss dropped Vanderbilt to 0-1 in SEC play and 8-5 overall. Alabama improved to 1-0 and 7-7. The Commodores will return to action on Saturday afternoon when they host the #14 Kentucky Wildcats.