Vanderbilt strikes again in 2nd half to beat Alabama, 73-66

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Coach Kevin Stallings took the blame for Vanderbilt’s sluggish first half as a distraction to his team since his tirade against a player was caught on camera after the Commodores’ last win.

He gives all credit to his Commodores for another outstanding second-half performance.

Wade Baldwin IV scored 15 points, and the Vanderbilt Commodores rallied from 14 points down in beating Alabama 73-66 Saturday for their third straight win.

“Our guys played great on both ends I thought, and I thought in the first half we looked kind of out of it …,” Stallings said. “But we shook the cobwebs out at halftime, and I told them after the game it was me in the first half and them in the second half.”

Baldwin is the freshman guard Stallings yelled at after Thursday night’s win at Tennessee. Stallings’ outburst was caught by cameras, and he was forced to apologize and facing internal discipline in what the athletic director called a personnel issue.

Wade Baldwin

Stallings had a quick quip as he started to talk to reporters after this game.

“Just got about 10 more minutes of work today without doing anything stupid, and I’ll be all right,” he said. “Let’s see if I can do it.”

The freshman defended his coach that night on Twitter, then tied his career-best with four 3-pointers Saturday.

“That’s the ultimate (with) the beating in all the press about him,” Baldwin said of the win. “And he’s a great coach. I love playing for him. He’s been nothing but great since this happened. He’s definitely remorseful.”

The Commodores (17-12, 7-9 Southeastern Conference) now are 6-2 in February after losing their last seven in January. They also swept the season series with Alabama after winning on the road on Valentine’s Day.

Matthew Fisher-Davis scored 13 points, James Siakam had 12 and Luke Kornet added 11 for the Commodores.

Retin Obasohan scored 16 points for Alabama (17-12, 7-9). Levi Randolph added 13 points, Rodney Cooper had 12 and Michael Kessens 10.

The SEC’s best 3-point shooters put on another show in the second half against the league’s second-best defense outside the arc.

Alabama led 38-27 at halftime, but the Commodores outscored the Tide 23-5 to open the second half in taking a 50-43 lead. They hit four of their six made 3-pointers in the half in a span of 3:02 capped by Kornet’s 3 midway through the half.

“We couldn’t break their rhythm whether it was man or zone,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said.

When Alabama fouled the Commodores, they simply hit 15 of their final 16 free throws to seal the win.

Vanderbilt, which shot 84.2 percent in the second half beating Tennessee 73-65 in Knoxville on Thursday night, missed its first six shots.

The Crimson Tide matched their biggest lead at 38-24 on a 3-pointer by Obasohan in the final seconds and led 38-27 at halftime, a margin trimmed by back-to-back 3s from Baldwin that turned out to be the start of Vandy’s comeback.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores now are 34 of 68 from 3-point range in their past three games. … Stallings got his 309th victory at Vandy and passed Tubby Smith for sole possession of sixth on the SEC’s all-time wins list. … Vandy now is 12-3 when scoring 70 or more points.

Alabama: Grant coached his 300th career game and his 100th SEC game. With the loss, he now is 192-108 and 53-47 in league play. … The Tide missed on the chance to win three straight SEC road games, something they haven’t done since 2004-05. … The Tide outrebounded Vandy 37-29.

“I want to be different in that I don’t want to make those kinds of mistakes,” Stallings said. “Am I going to coach entirely different? No. I’m going to be me. Our guys, and I’m honest about this, my guys want me to coach them hard. … Do I need to get better? Sure I need to get better. I need to get a lot better.”

Vanderbilt: Hosts Mississippi State on Wednesday night. Alabama: Hosts Mississippi on Tuesday night.