Crimson Tide Open Conference Play Against Vanderbilt
The Crimson Tide will put its 12-game conference home winning streak on the line Tuesday night when Vanderbilt comes to town for the first game of the SEC schedule.
Alabama won just its third game since November 19th when it topped Robert Morris 64-56 on Saturday. Sparked by a 16-2 run midway through the second half, the Crimson Tide was able to overcome a slow start to end the non-conference schedule on a positive note.
The start of SEC play means a fresh start for a team that finds itself left out of NCAA conversation as January begins. The beginning of the schedule is favorable for Alabama to get out to a quick start and it's essential to do so. There are consecutive games against ranked opponents less than two weeks away and February is highlighted by five road games in February.
So tonight provides a jumping-off point for a potentially strong finish to the season, but you can expect another hard-fought, back-and-forth game. In eight of the past nine meetings between these two schools, the game has been decided by fewer than 10 points. Plus, the Commodores have won the previous two meetings in Coleman Coliseum.
Vanderbilt has started the year 8-4 with its biggest win coming against Georgia Tech. But this team doesn't have the high expectations that typically come under head coach Kevin Stallings. After losing last season's leading scorer, the team has been in a bit of a rebuilding mode with a young roster but this group is competitive.
This team is led by senior forward Rod Odom, who finished with a career-high 21 points on Saturday, and sophomore guard Eric McClellan, a Tulsa transfer that leads the team in scoring.
For Alabama, the team goes as Trevor Releford goes. The senior point guard leads the team in points and assists while knocking down 43% of his 3-point shots. When he's in the game, the offense runs more efficiently without the extended droughts that have plagued this team at times. It's important that this team finds consistency if it wants to compete for a conference championship, however far away that goal might seem at this point.
This matchup will be televised nationally by ESPNU with a tip time of 8:00 PM CT.