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Vanderbilt looks to pull off another upset at No. 8 Alabama

Eighth-ranked Alabama (17-5, 12-1 SEC) looks to move one step closer to an SEC title when it hosts last-place Vanderbilt (6-11, 2-9) in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide have a two-game winning streak and should be well rested after Thursday's scheduled game with Texas A&M was postponed due to a snowstorm that hit the South this week.

Alabama has dominated conference play. It leads second-place Arkansas by three games with four scheduled games to play -- five if the A&M contest is made up.

In its last outing, Alabama whipped Georgia 115-82, on Feb. 13. Five Alabama players scored in double figures and four of those -- Jaden Shackelford (13.9 points), John Petty Jr. (13.4), Herb Jones (11.9) and Jahvon Quinerly (11.5) -- average double figures for the season.

But Alabama has been even better on the defensive end, where the Crimson Tide rank second nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to

Key to that is Jones, who leads Alabama in blocks (1.1), steals (1.6), assists (3.0) and rebounds (5.9) per game. Coach Nate Oats spoke to his value to Alabama this week.

"Everyone talks about our offense, but really if you want to win games, you better be big on defense," Oats said. "Herb's defense is unbelievable."

On Thursday, Alabama announced Oats agreed to a three-year extension that runs through the 2026-27 season and includes an annual salary increase to $3.225 million annually.

Wins have been scarce for Vandy, which lost another close one to Kentucky (82-78) on Wednesday night. The Commodores started poorly, spotting Kentucky a 10-0 lead. Vandy had as many turnovers (10) as made baskets in the first half.

"I think we just came out flat," Vanderbilt's Dylan Disu said. "There's nothing more I can elaborate on. I think we just came out flat. We didn't come out firing on all cylinders, so that's what led to the turnovers."

Disu had career highs in points (29) and rebounds (16) on Wednesday and leads the league in rebounding in all games (8.9).

Vandy is considered the underdog, but Alabama will certainly remember Vandy's visit to Tuscaloosa last March 3. The Commodores scored an 87-79 upset thanks to 38 points from Saben Lee, who's now in the NBA.

Vanderbilt was 15 of 28 from beyond the arc that day. The Commodores are 26 for 63 from long range in their two SEC wins this year.

The Crimson Tide have been terrific in defending 3-pointers, allowing 28.5 percent, which ranks ninth in the country.

Vanderbilt goes as point guard Scotty Pippen Jr. goes. In those two league victories, he's dished out 16 assists to five turnovers.

Pippen's best and worst were on display on Wednesday. The sophomore went scoreless in a five-turnover first half as the Commodores trailed by as many as 17 in the first period.

In the second half, Pippen scored 21, handed out three assists and didn't turn it over as Vanderbilt rallied with a chance to win in the final seconds.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 18, 2021

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