TUSCALOOSA _ The way it worked out, both teams had a chance to win at Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday night, but there would be no game-winning dramatics.
Instead, University of Alabama freshman forward Tony Mitchell was called for a hand-check foul with six seconds remaining, resulting in a Vanderbilt free throw, while senior guard Anthony Brock's game-ending drive missed and didn't draw a comparable call. Neither did sophomore forward JaMychal Green when he grabbed the rebound and was unable to get a shot off.
That was the difference the Commodores' 65-64 victory, much to the chagrin of the 11,608 fans.
"Obviously disappointed," Coach Anthony Grant said about his first SEC loss.
He was also pretty tight-lipped about the way it ended.
"I'd probably have to go look at the film," Grant later added. "You're emotional after the game."
Brock's miss came after Alabama led nearly the entire way and was up early 45-37 roughly six minutes into the second half. But Vanderbilt (13-3, 2-0 SEC) eventually exposed its depth issues, especially with the numerous fouls being called. Green, who coming in was Alabama's leading scorer by averaging 15.6 points, only played 20 minutes due to foul trouble, and finished with seven points and 10 rebounds - all defensive.
The Commodores took 37 free-throw attempts (only making 20), while in comparison the Tide was 10-for-17.
"We executed well, we got the shot we wanted," said senior guard Mikhail Torrance, who led all scorers with 23 points. "It just rimmed out. Nine times out of 10 I think he hits that shot."
That wasn't the only time the Tide's shooting was off. After jumping out to a full-throttle 14-5 lead, it went through two first-half droughts and then the final stretch.
After junior guard Charvez Davis hit a 3-pointer with 5:25 remaining, Alabama (11-5, 1-1) made only one more field goal the rest of the game, a Torrance drive that resulted in an unusual call with his being credited with both the basket and the foul. Consequently, instead of fouling out A.J. Ogilvy went to the line, where Vanderbilt scored seven of its last nine points - the other two from an impressive baseline jumper by Jermaine Beal with 45 second remaining.
Davis finished 1-for-6 from 3-point range, including three misses in the final 4:25.
Vanderbilt also scored 20 points off turnovers, in part from playing more physical in the second half when it clamped down on the lanes and put forward Jeff Taylor (13 points, nine rebounds, matching Ogilvy's night) on Torrance.
"I think they made adjustments, especially when JaMychal got in foul trouble," Torrance said. "We got a lot of great looks. It was frustrating."
Actually, there was one memorable dramatic play in particular, when Mitchell went flying out of bounds and while his teammates ran up-court followed suit behind the benches until he could jump back into play. He wound up contributing to a crowd-lifting basket.
"You got to stay in the game," he said.