This will be short since I was only listening to Joe Fisher for this one (thanks, cable, for not carrying this game in the Houston media market.)
The Vanderbilt Commodores won their third straight game and sixth in their last eight, completing a season sweep of the Alabama Crimson Tide with a 73-66 win in front of 9,928 fans at Memorial Gym. After a lethargic first half, Vandy went on a 23-5 run in the first ten minutes of the second half to gain a lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Just two days after Vanderbilt made SportsCenter for all the wrong reasons, Kevin Stallings and Wade Baldwin IV both got standing ovations from the crowd when the lineups were introduced. Baldwin then proceeded to have one of his best games of the season, scoring a team-high 15 points on 4-5 shooting from three to go along with five boards and three assists.
But this one was truly a team effort; while Baldwin's 15 led the way, three other Commodores scored in double figures -- Matthew Fisher-Davis (13), James Siakam (12), and Luke Kornet (11) all contributed to the win, and Fisher-Davis also had a team-high six rebounds. Riley LaChance, while not having a great day shooting the ball, dished out five assists against only one turnover.
And unlike the 1-7 start to conference play, once again this young Vanderbilt team is figuring out what it needs to do to win games in the SEC. The Commodores only committed nine turnovers on the afternoon, and shot 20-25 on free throws -- including 13-of-14 after the final media timeout. That excellent effort at the foul line prevented an Alabama comeback.
After a massive struggle to open SEC play, this Vanderbilt team is really putting things together and might be a couple of baskets away from an eight-game winning streak. As it stands, the Commodores are auto bid-or-bust for the NCAA Tournament (it's pretty hard to secure an at-large bid when you're #98 in the RPI and don't have a single top 50 win -- Vandy's best wins have still come against Purdue and Yale.) But the strong finish puts Vandy in a good position to make the NIT, and Vandy has a chance to add to that resume in the final week with Mississippi State coming to town, followed by a trip to Ole Miss. With the way this team is playing, I don't doubt they have the ability to win both of those.