NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt's Russell Lakey was so
relaxed, he made 3-pointers he wouldn't normally even attempt.
Lakey hit two 3s down the stretch and Matt Freije scored 19
points Saturday night as Vanderbilt beat No. 4 Alabama 70-69.
The Commodores (8-5, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) came in 0-3
against ranked opponents this season and beat their first top-five
opponent since a 75-71 victory over then-No. 4 UCLA on Nov. 22,
1995, in the Maui Invitational.
Connecticut, Indiana and Notre Dame all beat Vanderbilt, but
Lakey said he was better for it.
"Our tough non-conference schedule helped us because in the SEC
we're going to face top 10, 15 teams every day,'' Lakey said. "It
has really helped me face top point guards like (Indiana's) Tom
Coverdale, (Connecticut's) Taliek Brown and (Notre Dame's) Chris
Thomas and then against Mo Williams.''
Vanderbilt next hosts Kentucky (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) on Tuesday.
The Crimson Tide (11-2, 1-1) haven't beaten the Commodores in
Memorial Gym since 1990, a span of seven games, and had a chance
but took too long to make a late run.
Alabama's shooting was inconsistent as the team shot 48 percent
from the floor but only 8-for-15 from the foul line.
"We shot 57 percent in second half. We had enough chances to
win. We hurt ourselves at the free throw line,'' Alabama coach Mark
Gottfried said. "It was more or less their hot hand and us blowing
some opportunities that you need to have especially on the road.''
Alabama trailed by seven points with 3:05 remaining, but
Williams hit a 3 and Kennedy Winston converted a three-point play
to cut it to 63-61 with 50 seconds to go.
Lakey, who came in shooting 22 percent from beyond the arc,
swished a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to push Vanderbilt's lead
"I was happy for Russ because he's been struggling shooting the
ball,'' Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "His 3 was the
biggest basket of the game.''
The Tide wasn't finished, and Williams hit another 3 with 13.3
seconds to go, but Scott Hundley made two free throws to extend the
Commodores' lead to four.
Kenny Walker scored for Alabama with 4.4 seconds left, and then
intentionally fouled Vanderbilt's Corey Smith, who made both free
throws to seal it at 70-66.
Williams hit a 3 with less than a second left, but it wasn't
As the buzzer sounded, Vanderbilt students raced onto the court
to celebrate with the players at midcourt despite the efforts of
security guards to keep them back.
Hundley had 12 points and Lakey added 10.
Williams led Alabama with 23 points, while Walker added 16 and
Winston 14. Erwin Dudley was held to nine points and nine rebounds.
Vanderbilt lost the lead for the first time since the opening
minutes after the Tide started the second half with a 16-5 run to
tie it 46.
Williams hit consecutive 3s and Winston scored three baskets,
the last at 13:41 to end the run.
But the Commodores withstood the rally and pulled away again for
good with a quick 7-2 run after a tie at 50. Lakey hit a 3 with
6:50 left as Vanderbilt went ahead 57-52.
Alabama trailed by as many as 12 in the first half before
cutting the lead to five with 31 seconds left before halftime on
Vanderbilt led 36-30 at halftime after making one free throw in
the final three seconds.
Alabama had won two in a row after losing at Utah and its No. 1
The game was moved back to 8 p.m. CT to prevent conflicts with
the Tennessee Titans' NFL playoff game against Pittsburgh just a
few miles away from campus.
Winston started his first game, and played in his second. The
state's Mr. Basketball last year, Winston missed the first 11 games
as the NCAA reviewed improper benefits he allegedly received while
playing AAU basketball.
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