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Preview: Will Vanderbilt Avoid an Emotional Letdown Against Alabama?

Vanderbilt needs to avoid a letdown after an emotional win - and the explosive aftermath - of a road win over Tennessee. Can they hold serve in Nashville and complete a season sweep over Alabama on Saturday?

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Lost underneath the scrum of Kevin Stallings's postgame comments is one important thing: Vanderbilt overcame a 13-point second half deficit to beat Tennessee on the road.

Luke Kornet, Wade Baldwin IV, and Matthew Fisher-Davis came alive in the second half to shoot the Commodores to a big win on Thursday. On Saturday, they'll return to the court with their sights set on completing a season sweep of Alabama. Vandy beat 'Bama in Tuscaloosa two weeks ago when five different Commodores scored 10 points or more.

Alabama hasn't won two games in a row since early January and that has dropped them under .500 in SEC play after a promising 12-3 start to the season. The Tide's quest for revenge will be hampered by a pair of injuries. Forwards Shannon Hale and Michael Kessens are both doubtful for Saturday's game. The two combined for 14 points and 11 rebounds the last time these two teams met. That means that 'Bama will rely on little-used senior forward Dakota Slaughter much more than they'd like in Nashville.

Will that ultimately swing things in Vandy's favor? Let's take a look at Saturday's matchup between the Commodores and the Crimson Tide.

The Opponent: The University of Alabama (17-11, 7-8 SEC)

KenPom Rankings: Alabama is 55th. Vanderbilt is 43rd.

Key Stat10.5. Like many other SEC teams that Vandy has faced this season, the Tide have struggled to move the ball efficiently. Without a reliable post threat, they've been unable to spread the ball around for easy baskets. That's led to just 10.5 assists per game - a mark that doesn't even crack the top 300 in the NCAA.

With a limited threat of passes inside, Vanderbilt will have to lock down the perimeter to stop Alabama's shooting and drives to the basket. The 'Dores were able to hold 'Bama to just 10 assists and a shooting percentage under 40 percent when these teams met earlier this month. They'll have to do the same if they get out-rebounded again on Saturday.

Matchup to Watch: Wade Baldwin vs. the world. Baldwin enjoyed an unexpected 15 minutes in the spotlight this week for a few different reasons. First, he hyped up the Vandy/UT game by telling the press that he's coming after Tennessee's fans. Then, he put up a stellar 13/7/6 line in the Commodores' win over the Vols. Finally, he wound up on the sad end of a Kevin Stallings tirade that peaked at "I'll f---ing kill you" and ended with a contrite coach apologizing and being instantly scrutinized on ESPN afterwards.

Now Baldwin will return to Nashville with more eyes on him than ever before. The freshman guard has been on fire with his last two games. He's averaged 13 points and five assists per contest and made 75 percent of his three pointers in those Vandy wins. The Commodores are 8-2 in games where WBIV scores in double figures. They'll need him to come up big again to top the Tide in Nashville.

Starters and Rotation Players:

Pos. Player PPG RPG APG
G - Wade Baldwin IV 8.3 3.9 4.4
G - Riley LaChance 12.4 3.2 2.6
F - Jeff Roberson 4.8 3.4 1.2
F - James Siakam 8.7 5.9 0.6
C - Damian Jones 14.8 6.5 0.8
Key Reserves
F - Luke Kornet 8.9 3.8 0.9
G/F - Matthew Fisher-Davis 6.4 2.1 1.2
G - Shelton Mitchell 4.4 2.2 3.5
Pos. Player PPG RPG APG
G - Levi Randolph 14.8 5 2.4
G - Retin Obasohan 5 2.5 0.8
G - Rodney Cooper 10.3 3.8 1.7
F - Riley Norris 4.9 4 0.6
F - Jimmie Taylor 4.7 4.8 0.4
Key Reserves
G - Justin Coleman 4.7 1.1 1.3
G - Devin Mitchell 0.8 0.3 0.4
F - Dakota Slaughter 0.8 0.2 0.2