Roberson, LaChance carry Commodores past Tide


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Riley LaChance missed practice and for most of Vanderbilt’s pregame shoot-around he was sick enough he could keep little down except water.

The sophomore guard couldn’t have looked healthier against Alabama.

LaChance scored a season-high 18 points and hit a career-best 5 of 6 from 3-point range, and the Commodores beat Alabama 71-63 Saturday for their second straight victory.

“He’s a gritty kid,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “He’s a tough, competitive kid. He wants to play. He wants to be in there. He wants to do well.”

LaChance also spent plenty of time Friday at the student health clinic with what Stallings said might be tonsillitis. That didn’t stop LaChance from playing 35 minutes.

“I’m all right,” LaChance said. “Obviously, it feels good to get a win against a great opponent. That’s what I’m focusing on right now. I’m just happy about that.”

The Commodores (10-7, 2-3) desperately needed these games at home after opening their Southeastern Conference schedule 0-3, and they responded by winning back-to-back games for the first time since November. They won’t have consecutive games at Memorial Gym again until the end of February.

Jeff Roberson scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Damian Jones added 13 for Vanderbilt.

Alabama (10-6, 1-3) came in off its third upset of a Top 25 team this season after handing No. 19 South Carolina its first loss Wednesday night but lost for the third time in four games.

Shannon Hale led Alabama with 13 points before fouling out with 4:14 left, and Retin Obasohan added 10.

The Crimson Tide led only twice with the biggest margin coming off Riley Norris’ 3-pointer to open the game. Wade Baldwin IV hit a jumper to put Vandy ahead 17-16, and Alabama managed only to tie it up twice more.

Vanderbilt led 33-31 at halftime and started the second half on a 10-1 run. Alabama went nearly six minutes between field goals after Shannon Hale’s layup with 23 seconds left before halftime until Norris’ layup with 14:37 to go. In that time, the Commodores built their biggest lead to 43-32 with a 3-pointer from LaChance with 15:02 remaining.

“Those first four, eight minutes of the second half has been an Achilles’ heel for us all year, even in some of our wins,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said.

Jones had one point in the first half but scored nine of Vanderbilt’s first 15 points in the second. He capped that with a three-point play off his third dunk nearly midway through the half for a 48-38 lead.

Vanderbilt: Jones was coming off a season-low 13 minutes played in Vanderbilt’s last game because of foul trouble. He played 11 minutes in the first half picking up only one foul. But Jones missed all eight shots in the first half with only one rebound before slamming down his ninth 76 seconds into the second half. … Matthew Fisher-Davis returned after missing a game with a sore left foot. He played 16 minutes and hit the final bucket for Vandy, a 3. … After the only game between these teams this season, Vanderbilt now leads the series 68-67 overall and 42-19 at Memorial Gym.

Alabama: Norris, who scored a career-high 27 points in beating South Carolina, had only six points against Vandy … Alabama both outrebounded Vandy 39-29 and outscored the Commodores 38-16 in the paint. The Crimson Tide couldn’t overcome shooting a season-low 35 percent at the free throw line (7 of 20) when Vandy hit 22 of 36 at the line.

“He’s what college basketball is all about. He’s not the biggest guy. He’s not going to scare you or intimidate you, but he’s very productive. He’s a guy that can come out and dominate the game if you don’t give him a lot of attention,” Johnson said about LaChance.

Vanderbilt: Visits Tennessee on Wednesday night.

Alabama: Visits Auburn on Tuesday night.