by Barca Blog
Although the Commodores didn't bring their 'A' game to Tuscaloosa last night, head coach Kevin Stallings was very upbeat about Vanderbilt's hard-fought road win over Alabama.
Stallings repeatedly told Joe Fisher on the postgame show (click to listen) about how appreciative he was of his team for answering the challenge.
"I was very proud of our players," Stallings said. "The fortitude, the heart, the toughness, and the character that they showed to get the job done. I told them yesterday, 'It doesn't matter how (we win), we just have to get it done.'"
The Commodores, who trailed by 10 with 18 minutes left, almost became their own worst enemy in the second half by only converting 13-of-27 free throws. They also had plenty of opportunities to take control of the game but misfired on several short-range shots.
But the team was able to dominate the boards and put the clamps down on Bama's offense (especially guard Mikhail Torrance) when it mattered to come away with the 65-64 victory.
"I think the whole key to the second half was rebounding on both ends," Stallings stated. "When we did make stops, we got the rebound. We also had a lot of second chances on offense and that created fouls and problems for them. We really did the job there."
"We never quite understood that we didn't want Torrance to go left and keep dribbling into the lane and shooting layups against us. The change to put Jeff (Taylor) on Torrance really helped, and then when we went to the zone, and that got him stopped, and things started going in our favor.
"On the last possession of the game we did a great job of not letting Torrance have the ball. If someone was going to beat us, it wasn't going to be him if I had anything to do with it."
*Trailing 62-58, Vanderbilt held Alabama without a field goal in the final 3:19 of the game. VU played zone defense for most of the second half and limited the Tide to 37 percent from the field. Bama shot 57 percent in the first half.
*Even though Vanderbilt finished 20-for-37 from the line, the team was aggressive enough to get to the line 20 more times than Alabama in a tough environment.
*With eight turnovers against the Tide, Vanderbilt has committed only 15 turnovers in the last two games against high-pressure defenses. Vandy was able to create several easy transition baskets off Bama turnovers, too. VU outscored UA 20-8 in that category.
*Vanderbilt outrebounded Alabama 25-20 in the second half and allowed only four second-chance points.
*Vanderbilt is 2-0 to start conference play for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The Commodores have a chance to go 3-0 for the first time in the Stallings' era this Saturday at South Carolina.
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