11-seed Vandy roars back to upset 6-seed Alabama
TAMPA, Fla. - Vanderbilt blitzed Alabama with a second-half comeback for the ages and won 81-75 on Thursday inside AMALIE Arena in the second round of the SEC Tournament.
The Commodores (17-15) trailed by 15 with a little more 14 minutes to play. They outscored the Crimson Tide 46-25 from there to punch their ticket into the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, where they will face Kentucky (25-6) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Scotty Pippen Jr. made up for a tough shooting night from the field to go 15 of 21 from the line en route to a 26-point performance. He also had seven assists. Myles Stute scored 18 on six made 3s, Jordan Wright had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Rodney Chatman added 12.
All 12 of Chatman's points came in the second half, and 10 of the 12 came in the final 5:12.
In a 68-68 game with the clock ticking under the 3:20 mark, it was Chatman who drilled a left-corner 3 to give the Commodores a 71-68 lead. Pippen's runner a few moments later put Vandy ahead 73-69.
Stute's sixth 3 of the game made it 76-71 and virtually put the game to bed. Vandy sank just enough free throws over the final seconds to preserve the victory.
Jaden Shackelford scored 21 points to lead Alabama (19-13), but only one of those points came in the final 16:32 of the game.
Much as they had done Wednesday, Vanderbilt got off to a slow offensive start Thursday and went 3:17 without a point. Alabama took advantage with an 8-0 run before Stute hit back-to-back 3s to get the Dores to 11-6.
Pippen completed an 8-2 run by the Commodores with his triple from the right side, making it 13-11. Alabama responded with an 11-3 spurt to lengthen the advantage to 24-14.
Vanderbilt went 7:36 without a made field goal after Pippen's aforementioned 3, while Alabama kept its lead at or around 10 for a solid 2 1/2 minutes before a James Rojas bucket made it 30-18 with 5:13 to go in the half.
Shackelford made it a 36-22 game with 2:38 left in the half, and Alabama was in total control at that point.
The Crimson Tide had a 38-28 advantage after the first 20 minutes, which were a forgettable 20 minutes for the Commodores. Vandy made only six field goals out of 23 shots from the floor-and turned the ball over nine times.
Stute's 3-pointer got Vanderbilt to 43-35 early in the second half, but Alabama quickly squashed that momentum and slowly built the margin back out to 51-36 on Keon Ellis' slashing layup.
Vandy found itself on an 8-0 run thanks to a pair of Stute 3s and a Pippen layup that trimmed the margin to 51-44 with 12:46 left-forcing an Alabama timeout. The Commodores kept coming out of the break and got a steal and layup each from Trey Thomas and Shane Dezonie, respectively, cutting the score to 53-51.
Two Pippen free throws with 9:11 remaining gave Vanderbilt its first lead of the night at 57-56.
The Crimson Tide scored six straight to sharply regain control and held the lead until Chatman sank three free throws with 4:26 left on the clock. That set up the dramatic final 4 1/2 minutes.
- Vanderbilt is now 42-58 in SEC Tournament history. The Commodores have made the championship game twice, in 1951 and 2012, and won in each instance. The Commodores last won two games at the SEC Tournament in 2017 when they won three.
- Vandy is now 9-3 when Rodney Chatman plays this season.
- Pippen set a career-high in free throw attempts with 21.
- Pippen Jr. (1,497) is now 15th on Vanderbilt's all-time scoring list. Dan Langhi, (1,502) is 14th. Pippen Jr. now has the second-most made free throws (469) in Vanderbilt history. A.J. Ogilvy (first) made 471.
- Pippen Jr. has 656 points this season, the fifth-most in a single Vanderbilt season and the third-most by a junior in a single Vanderbilt season. Pippen could still become the first SEC player to average at least 20 points per game in consecutive seasons since Ronnie Henderson of LSU did so from 1994-96.
- Wright has now started 37 straight games for Vanderbilt.
- Thomas has played in 57 straight games for the Commodores.
- The Commodores are now 71-74 all-time against Alabama, 7-4 on a neutral court and 5-4 in postseason matchups.
- Vanderbilt last last beat Alabama in the SEC Tournament in 2003.
- Vandy has now forced 15 or more turnovers 16 times this season.
- The Commodores are now 4-11 when trailing at halftime and 10-2 when scoring at least 75 points.