The emotion was unmistakable Tuesday night in Nashville.
There have been just a few tears wiped on warmups within the pregame shootaround on a heavy night for the No. 4 Alabama basketball staff. The 78-66 win over Vanderbilt got here simply three days after former teammate Darius Miles was charged with capital homicide in what’s been a mentally taxing stretch.
The seventh straight Crimson Tide win was by no means notably shut till the closing moments. A 23-point Alabama lead slipped all the way in which to 68-62 with underneath a minute left earlier than the Tide pulled away one ultimate time from the foul line.
The tragedy from Tuscaloosa was nonetheless looming massive over this recreation.
“I did not see a ton of emotion pregame essentially however I did see some guys break down postgame,” Alabama coach Nate Oats stated through Zoom after the sport. “I believe they have been bottling some stuff up. You know, we had a job to do. We needed to get to the sport, acquired to the sport, took care of enterprise after which it is nearly like there is a large aid the sport is over and we set free a sigh of aid.”
Crimson Tide gamers weren’t accessible for remark after the sport.
Alabama (16-2, 6-0 SEC) acquired a game-high 30 from star freshman Brandon Miller in a homecoming recreation for the Nashville-area product. The ahead added his tenth rebound late for a double-double on a night he made 10 of his 16 photographs.
Although just a few hours from house, the quirky Memorial Gymnasium on Vanderbilt’s campus had a heavy crimson presence. The visiting crowd was in celebration mode when Miller’s 3 made it 53-30 with 12:44 left however Vanderbilt’s frigid capturing turned thawed for a time. Commodore Tyrin Lawrence scored 17 of his 20 after halftime however the Commodores acquired no nearer than six within the ultimate moments.
(*4*)It wasn’t sufficient to finish Alabama’s streak of holding seven straight opponents underneath 70 factors.
“I believe we have proven psychological toughness prior to now,” Oats stated. “We gained at Houston, the No. 1 staff within the nation after being down 15 at the half. We gained at Arkansas, one of many hardest locations to play. They have been picked to be within the high two or three within the league by everyone. So we have gone on the street and gained prior to now. We had a little bit bit totally different circumstances — lots totally different circumstances right here — it is nonetheless a street win. I simply suppose we’ve a mentally robust group.”
Vanderbilt fell to 9-9, 2-3 within the SEC with the loss 4 days after beating No. 15 Arkansas on the identical ground.
Alabama got here out quick, sprinting to a 13-3 lead because the hosts missed 12 of its first 13 photographs. The Tide was working inside as Vanderbilt was enjoying with out 7-foot main scorer and rim protector Liam Robbins. Without the shot-blocking chief down low, Alabama outscored the Commodores 20-8 within the paint earlier than halftime and 40-26 within the recreation.
Miller scored 5 of the primary 9 and 12 of the 36 by halftime as he performed with an edge. Twice within the first half he stated one thing to the Commodore bench after making photographs at the rim as three of the primary six Alabama baskets got here on dunks.
Vanderbilt fired again because the Tide shifted its focus to the perimeter. After making its first two exterior photographs, Alabama missed its subsequent eight because the Commodores took a 22-21 lead on a Malik Dia 3-pointer.
The 10-0 Alabama run that adopted noticed Vanderbilt go chilly once more whereas making simply 2 of 12 photographs. A 36-26 halftime margin noticed the Commodores capturing simply 25.6% from the sphere.
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Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande okay Facebook.