Alabama at Vanderbilt
When and Where: Saturday, Feb. 9, Memorial Coliseum, Nashville, Tenn., 8:30 p.m. EST.
If Alabama is entertaining any thoughts of reaching the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year, it must take care of business and win at last-place Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
Tide trying to start late push up SEC standings
Unlike last season when the Crimson Tide (14-8, 5-4 SEC) had a bonafide elite scorer in Collin Sexton to carry them, this version of Avery Johnson’s team is more balanced and bangs the boards — Alabama has a plus-5.0 rebounding margin per game.
— Alabama Men’s Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) February 7, 2019
The Tide have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games and are coming off an 89-74 home win over Georgia on Wednesday night. Tevin Mack and freshman Kira Lewis Jr. combined for 49 points as Alabama shot a season-best 56.9 percent and bounced back strongly after being manhandled at archrival Auburn.
“I am awfully proud of this Alabama Crimson Tide team,” Johnson told the school’s official website. “I talked to them about the way you handle disappointment is you don’t allow it to hijack your dreams. We obviously didn’t have a great performance in our last game but I’m awfully glad about the way we handled it tonight.
“We played hard and we were really good on defense in the second half, which has been our achilles heel. We got some outstanding performances from some guys like Kira and Tevin.”
Johnson has also been getting production from his bench all season. The reserves accounted for 22 points, slightly off their season mark of 27.1 per game as they have outscored their opposing counterparts by nine points per contest.
Lewis is averaging a team-best 14.9 points while John Petty has averaged 12.8 points in 10 games since Johnson moved him into a sixth man role. They will be key in Alabama attempting to end a three-game road losing streak while picking up their second SEC road win.
‘Dores back home again trying for first SEC win
Vanderbilt’s season in some respects was over before it started after highly touted freshman guard Darius Garland suffered a season-ending knee injury just five games into the season. Fellow freshman and center Simi Shittu has been solid, averaging 12.0 points and 7.1 rebounds, but the Commodores have not been able to solve the rugged SEC as the calendar reaches mid-February.
The Commodores are Coming ⚔️ #GameofThrones
— Vanderbilt Men's Basketball (@VandyMBB) February 7, 2019
Bryce Drew’s team is coming off an empty two-game road swing, with losses at Missouri and Arkansas by a combined 13 points. The Commodores led by 10 in the first half and were still in position to win the game after Joe Toye hit a 3-pointer with 40 seconds to play for a 66-64 lead, but they allowed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession before Saben Lee was called for an offensive foul with a chance to win the game.
“This has been a tough stretch,” Drew told The Associated Press. “A tough stretch for a lot of reasons. Three of these games, in the last 1:30, just every break has gone against us.”
Lee leads Vanderbilt in scoring at 13.5 points per game, with Shittu and Aaron Nesmith (10.5 ppg) also in double figures. Vanderbilt is 0-5 at home in SEC play but did take No. 1 Tennessee to overtime before losing 88-83 on Jan. 23.
The Commodores have won three straight at home over Alabama and four of the last five meetings overall.
- 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games as a home underdog.
- 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games vs. SEC opponents.
- The home team is 1-9 ATS in the last 10 games between the teams.
- The under is 8-3-1 in its last 12 games vs. above-.600 teams.
- The under is 6-1 in its last seven games following an ATS win.
- The under is 5-1 in its last six games as an underdog between 0.5-6.5 points.
- 5-1 ATS in its last six games vs. SEC opponents.
- 5-1 ATS in its last six road games vs. Vanderbilt.
- 5-0-1 ATS in its last six games as a favorite between 0.5-6.5 points.
- The under is 4-0 in its last four road games vs. teams with an above-.500 home record.
- The under is 4-0 in its four games following an ATS win.
- The under is 15-6 in its last 21 games as a road favorite between 0.5-6.5 points.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This is a very tricky game for the Crimson Tide, but the expectation is the urgency of the situation will help them get over the hump. No one wants to be the team that allows a winless conference team to be a one-win conference team, and in the case of Alabama, it would be a death knell for its NCAA Tournament hopes.
Vanderbilt has lived up to the adage that young teams find ways to lose games, and while it should hang around in this contest, it should hold true again.
Prediction: Pick: Alabama -3.5
Full-Game Total Pick
While the over has hit in five of the last six meetings, the asterisk is that the teams combined to clear Saturday’s number only in the most recent meeting and played to 144 and under in four of the last six matchups. Alabama has scored 70 or less in its last four road games, and this figures to be tight enough where the defenses should keep the point totals down.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 144.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
Not much separates these teams in terms of preferrable form to their corresponding roles. Alabama has trailed by 12 or more in three of its four SEC road games while Vanderbilt has been behind after 20 minutes in three of its five conference home games and was ghastly in getting blasted 45-15 by Kentucky in its last game at Memorial.
The hedge is the Commodores keep this just close enough after their tough loss at Arkansas and show some fight in the first 20 minutes here.
Prediction: Pick: Vanderbilt +1.5
Half-Time Total Bet
Neither Alabama nor Vanderbilt have scored 40 first-half points as the road and home teams, respectively. To take it one step further, the Crimson Tide have not scored more than 32 in the opening half of their five SEC road games. The ‘Dores have been held to 32 or less in three of its five conference tilts in Nashville, so the under is a strong play here.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 68.5 points