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Alabama 78, Vanderbilt 75: Close, but no cigar

Let’s hope Jason Rivera-Torres sticks around.

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Alabama v Vanderbilt Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images

Four Factors

Four Factors Vanderbilt Alabama
Four Factors Vanderbilt Alabama
eFG% 45.38% 60.38%
OR% 25.58% 28.13%
TO% 12.68% 22.54%
FT Rate 30.77% 39.62%

Tennessean: Vanderbilt basketball falls to Alabama in SEC opener after late rally

The Vanderbilt Hustler: Vanderbilt loses SEC opener 78-75 to Alabama

Vanderbilt Athletics: Tide Holds Off Vandy Rally

Tennessean: Why Vanderbilt basketball’s close loss to Alabama was familiar result under Jerry Stackhouse

Tuscaloosa News: Alabama basketball beats Vanderbilt, but competitive edge still inadequate

Roll Bama Roll: Tide Holds On For 78-75 Win Over Vanderbilt

Alabama Athletics: Alabama Defeats Vanderbilt Saturday Afternoon in its SEC Opener

Well, it was close, at least.

Then again: for a while, it wasn’t. Alabama led 33-15 ten minutes into the game, with a 14-0 run midway through the first half causing Jerry Stackhouse to call a rare timeout. But that was with Alabama shooting something like 75 percent from three; once the Tide cooled down to a “normal” 40 percent, things tightened up, in large part because Vanderbilt wasn’t turning the ball over. The Commodores only committed nine turnovers for the game, and the fact that Vanderbilt attempted 65 shots to Alabama’s 53 (the free throw attempts were basically even, with Alabama attempting 21 and Vanderbilt 20) managed to make the final score close in spite of a large disparity in shooting percentages.

Anyway, the shooting has been a season-long problem — Vanderbilt ranks 297th nationally in effective field goal percentage — and so, too, is opponents shooting the lights out. Saturday was kind of a microcosm of Vanderbilt’s problems in a single game, in a lot of ways: can’t shoot the ball, can’t stop the other team from scoring, with the one difference that Alabama played sloppy. Alabama’s 22.5% turnover rate was an outlier, for both teams (Vanderbilt doesn’t force many turnovers and Alabama doesn’t commit many) and that made the game close. But Vanderbilt seemed to spend most of the second half trailing by somewhere between six and eleven points; Alabama never made a run to put the game away, but Vanderbilt never made a run to put the pressure on Alabama, either. It was just... static.

The three-point loss did bump Vanderbilt up from 203 to 185 in KenPom, but KenPom still has the team finishing 7-24, 2-16 in the SEC. And I’m guessing the improvement won’t last long if Ezra Manjon’s injury — he limped off with about eight minutes left in the game — causes him to miss any significant amount of time. Vanderbilt is already down Colin Smith for the rest of the season, and Lee Dort indefinitely.

Individual Stats

Box Score

Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PTS PF AST TO BLK STL AdjGS GS/Min
Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PTS PF AST TO BLK STL AdjGS GS/Min
Jason Rivera-Torres 23 8 13 1 4 3 4 2 4 6 20 3 1 1 1 2 25.05 1.09
Tyrin Lawrence 34 7 19 2 6 4 6 1 4 5 20 0 1 2 0 3 17.60 0.52
Ezra Manjon 27 5 11 0 2 6 6 0 1 1 16 0 0 1 0 2 16.60 0.61
Ven-Allen Lubin 15 1 2 0 0 2 2 2 2 4 4 2 2 1 1 0 7.59 0.51
Jordan Williams 22 2 5 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 6 3 2 0 1 1 7.44 0.34
Tasos Kamateros 31 2 7 2 7 0 0 2 3 5 6 1 0 2 0 1 4.01 0.13
Carter Lang 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 -0.14 -0.02
Malik Presley 7 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 -0.29 -0.04
Evan Taylor 21 1 7 0 3 0 0 1 5 6 2 4 0 0 0 1 -1.29 -0.06
Paul Lewis 8 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 -1.57 -0.20
  • Obviously, this was probably Jason Rivera-Torres’ best game in a Vanderbilt uniform and it wasn’t particularly close, either. His season-long numbers actually aren’t great, but given the direction the season is going there’s no reason not to play him big minutes the rest of the way.
  • Tyrin Lawrence was... fine? 20 points is nothing to sneeze at, but 20 points on 19 field goal attempts and 6 free throw attempts isn’t great.
  • As mentioned, Ezra Manjon left in the second half with an apparent injury. We’ll see what his status is going forward — we can only hope that he’s not going to be out long. (For the record, I’m never going to actively root against the team, and even if I were you’d hate to see Manjon’s Vanderbilt career end like that.)
  • And outside of those three, things weren’t great. Ven-Allen Lubin scored four points and was fourth on the team in Game Score.
  • Jordan Williams played 22 minutes and was fifth on the team in Game Score. Neither of those things should ever be true.
  • Tasos Kamateros, who didn’t have a good shooting day, was the only other player in positive territory. Not great.
  • Carter Lang, Malik Presley, Evan Taylor, and Paul Lewis all had negative Game Scores, which if you’re new here is code for “actively hurting the team.” Granted, for three of those they played seven or eight minutes and didn’t do much while they were on the floor. Evan Taylor is a different matter; he was 1-for-7 from the floor yesterday, and on the season he’s shooting 43 percent on twos and 27 percent on threes. And remember, he was brought in to be a shooter.
  • DNPs were Colin Smith, Lee Dort, JaQualon Roberts, and Isaiah West. Smith, obviously, is out for the season and Dort is out indefinitely while his legal case goes through the system (and possibly done at Vanderbilt.) West is supposedly injured and this is the second game in a row he’s missed. Roberts has played 13 minutes in the last five games and I’m guessing that’s just a “he’s not ready” issue.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt travels to LSU on Tuesday, where they’ll see former teammate Jordan Wright. Game time is 8:00 PM CT on the SEC Network. LSU didn’t look great in nonconference play... and then went to College Station and beat Texas A&M by 15 in its SEC opener.