Alabama hangs on to beat Vanderbilt 68-63
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)
After beating Robert Morris in its last non-conference game 64-56, Alabama held on to defeat Vanderbilt in the opening SEC game for both teams on Tuesday night.
''I thought we had some guys who stepped up at the end of the game,'' stated Alabama coach Anthony Grant. ''Retin (Obasohan) did a good job of seizing the moment and taking advantage of the opportunities that were there to make some big plays down the stretch.''
Trevor Releford scored 16 points and had six assists for Alabama (7-7, 1-0). Shannon Hale and Obasohan had 15 points each, and Levi Randolph added 11 points.
With Alabama ahead 52-36 with 12:11 to go, the Commodores went on a 22-9 run to slice the lead to 61-58 with 3:20 left, but Obasohan buried a three-point shot to extend the lead to 66-60 with 1:27 remaining. The Crimson Tide pushed the lead back up to 68-60 with 25 seconds to go in the game.
''It was just one of those situations, clock running down and I had the ball in my hands and I had to make a play,'' stated Obasohan of his clutch three-pointers. ''I was just trying to make a play. Taking whatever was available.''
Vanderbilt played without leading scorer Eric McClellan who did not make the trip to Tuscaloosa for undisclosed reasons, leaving the Commodores short-handed with only seven scholarship players.
It was a pretty evenly played first half, with the score tied 20 at the 6:58 mark before the Crimson Tide went on a 12-2 run to take a 32-22 lead on an alley-oop dunk by Rodney Cooper with 1:19 left in the half. Releford scored eight points to spark the rally. Alabama maintained a 36-26 advantage, matching its largest lead of the first half, at intermission.
''We had a lapse of energy,'' Obasohan said. ''We were not aggressive as we were in the first half. We gave them the opportunity to get back in the game.''
Alabama leads all SEC schools with 13 straight conference home wins.