Tide Hoops Tops Commodores in Nashville
The Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team downed the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville by a score of 78-66 on Tuesday. The victory was hard fought in an arena that has given the Tide fits in the past. Alabama built a comfortable lead over the Commodores at points in the game, but ultimately had to survive a late Vanderbilt rally.
Tuesday's game was important for the Crimson Tide for multiple reasons. Getting another conference victory on the road against the team that knocked it out of the SEC tournament last year was huge, but it was also the first time the team has taken the court since the arrest of former teammate Darius Miles on capital murder charges.
"Sunday was really rough. I think they realized the severity of the entire situation," said Tide head coach Nate Oats. "Different guys process things differently. Some of them handled it a little bit better, some looked like they were still maybe in a fog tonight."
Brandon Miller shined in what was effectively a homecoming for the star freshman. Miller, a native of Antioch, Tenn., put up 30 points in his 37 minutes on the court and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Usual standout Mark Sears had a quiet night. The Ohio transfer put up just three points and went 1-of-5 from the field in his 26 minutes of playing time. However, he still managed to get his blue collar points in and rebounded four balls and had three assists and a steal.
Freshman guard Jaden Bradley had a bit of a coming out party, as well. The budding star has seen increasing playing time throughout this season and went for 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal in his thirty minutes.
At one point in the second half, Alabama had a 23-point lead that Vanderbilt was able to quickly cut to 16 before closing the game out with just 12 points separating the two squads. After the game, Oats said he opted not to get on his team for not fighting harder to close the game out and instead applauded their mental toughness in the trying circumstances.
Oats said after the game that the past 48 hours have been shocking and very difficult to handle. He said that he himself has turned to prayer, and has shared some of the passages he found most helpful with his team. He also said that the team has been utilizing the counseling programs and other resources made available to them by the University and he expects more guys to do so when they return to Tuscaloosa.
Oats made reference specifically Romans 8:28, which reads "and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
"I didn’t see a ton of emotion pregame necessarily. I did see some guys break down post game," said Oats. "I think they’ve been bottling some stuff up."
The Tide's journey forward from the actions of Miles and his co-suspect will continue Saturday as it travels to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers at 5 p.m. central time.