The emotion was unmistakable Tuesday night in Nashville.
There had been a couple of tears wiped on warmups within the pregame shootaround on a heavy night for the No. 4 Alabama basketball crew. 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 beneath a minute left earlier than the Tide pulled away one ultimate time from the foul line.
The tragedy from Tuscaloosa was nonetheless looming giant 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 mentioned by way of Zoom after the sport. “I feel they had been bottling some stuff up. You know, we had a job to do. We needed to get to the sport, obtained to the sport, took care of enterprise after which it is nearly like there is a massive aid the sport is over and we set free a sigh of aid.”
Crimson Tide gamers weren’t out there for remark after the sport.
Alabama (16-2, 6-0 SEC) obtained 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 pictures.
Although a couple of hours from house, the quirky Memorial Gymnasium on Vanderbilt’s campus had a heavy crimson presence. The visiting crowd was in occasion mode when Miller’s 3 made it 53-30 with 12:44 left however Vanderbilt’s frigid taking pictures turned thawed for a time. Commodore Tyrin Lawrence scored 17 of his 20 after halftime however the Commodores obtained no nearer than six within the ultimate moments.
It wasn’t sufficient to finish Alabama’s streak of holding seven straight opponents beneath 70 factors.
(*4*)”I feel we have proven psychological toughness previously,” Oats mentioned. “We gained at Houston, the No. 1 crew within the nation after being down 15 at the half. We gained at Arkansas, one of many hardest locations to play. They had been picked to be within the prime two or three within the league by all people. So we have gone on the highway and gained previously. We had just a little bit totally different circumstances — rather a lot totally different circumstances right here — it is nonetheless a highway win. I simply suppose we have now a mentally powerful 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 their first 13 pictures. 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 mentioned one thing to the Commodore bench after making pictures 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 pictures, 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 once more go chilly whereas making simply 2 of 12 pictures. A 36-26 halftime margin noticed the Commodores taking pictures simply 25.6% from the sphere.
Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on Facebook.