TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Vanderbilt went toe to toe with SEC-leader and eighth-ranked Alabama on Saturday, but the Commodores came up just short in a 82-78 defeat inside Coleman Coliseum.
Vandy held a two-point lead late before Alabama scored seven quick points to regain control 70-65 with 4:21 to play. About a minute later, Scotty Pippen Jr. sank 2 of 3 free throws to cut the score to 71-68.
Jahvon Quinerly’s 3 with 2:09 remaining gave the Crimson Tide some breathing room at 76-70. Maxwell Evans kept Vandy barely alive with a triple that made it 77-73 with just 41 seconds to play.
A Pippen steal then gave Vanderbilt a chance to get even closer – but a Pippen 3 was no good and Alabama made its free throws down the stretch to survive.
“It’s a good learning experience for us playing the No. 8 team in the country,” Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “I think it’s a confidence-builder. Even though we didn’t beat them to know that all these rankings and all this different stuff it doesn’t matter. We know that we’re very, very capable and we just got to keep building and taking these experiences and learning from them.”
Pippen scored 24 and half his points came from the line. The sophomore point guard also had four assists.
Dylan Disu had another impressive performance for Vanderbilt by scoring 17 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. Evans added 18.
Vanderbilt (6-12, 2-10 SEC) returns home at 8 p.m. Wednesday to host No. 19 Tennessee (15-6, 8-6).
Vandy and Alabama traded buckets to start things Saturday and Pippen scored eight of the Dores’ first 10 points helping the visitors to a 10-8 lead five minutes in.
The Commodores continued to keep pace well into the first half and had a 20-16 lead after an Evans triple and a 22-18 edge thanks to a Disu layup. Issac McBride came off the bench from there to sink a 3 making it 25-18.
Alabama immediately responded with a 9-0 run to take a 27-25 lead. The Commodores went without a single point for 6:04, yet still found themselves tied at 27-all late in the half thanks to an Evans jumper.
The Crimson Tide scored the final six points of the opening frame to take a 33-29 lead at the break. Vandy held its own statistically throughout the first 20 minutes, but the long scoring drought was a major factor in its halftime deficit.
Vanderbilt then started the second half on an 8-0 run thanks to a monster alley-top finish from Disu. An Evans 3 shortly thereafter put Vandy up 38-34.
Down 41-38, Alabama exploded for a 10-run in just 45 seconds. Minutes later Alex Reese scored from inside to put the Crimson Tide up 57-45.
Vanderbilt didn’t fold up shop quite yet and seven in a row from the line got it within 59-53. Braelee Albert then banged a 3 from the left corner to cut the deficit to 59-56 with a little more than eight minutes to play.
A single Disu free throw with 6:08 to play tied the game at 63-all. Thirty seconds later Pippen’s spinning drive to the hole put the Commodores ahead 65-63 and that set up the final 5 1/2 minutes to play.
Jaden Shackelford led Alabama (18-5, 13-1 SEC) with 27 points.
Both teams made 10 3-pointers and combined to shoot 62 attempts from beyond the arc. Alabama got 57 points off its bench.
• Clevon Brown was not available to play for the Commodores on Saturday.
• Pippen, Disu, Evans, Jordan Wright and Albert started Saturday’s game for Vanderbilt, the 12th different starting lineup Vanderbilt has used this season.
• Pippen is the only Commodore to have started all 18 games for Vandy this season and has started 32 straight games for Vanderbilt.
• The double-double for Disu was the sixth of this season and 11th of his career.
• Vanderbilt has now made at least four 3s in 33 consecutive games.
• Vandy is now 0-10 this season when trailing at the break.
• The Commodores are now 70-72 all-time against Alabama and 22-46 in Tuscaloosa.
• Seven of Vanderbilt’s 10 SEC losses this season are by a combined 30 points.