Alabama continues to ride a wave of success during Nate Oats’ inaugural season, notching its first three-game win streak of Southeastern Conference play with a 77-62 victory over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night inside the always difficult Memorial Coliseum in Nashville.
Junior sharpshooter John Petty Jr. cruised to a team-high 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead four Crimson Tide (11-7, 4-2 SEC) scorers in double figures, followed by 16 and 15 points along with seven rebounds apiece from guards Kira Lewis Jr. and Jaden Shackelford, respectively. Junior forward Herbert Jones added 10 points and five rebounds before fouling out in the final minute of the game.
It was Alabama’s second-straight win inside Memorial Coliseum and its first three-game win streak over the Commodores (8-10, 0-6 SEC) since winning seven consecutive games in the series between 1984-87.
Here are three takeaways from Alabama’s third-straight win, 77-62, over Vanderbilt:
1. Petty double-double keeps Alabama rolling.
Petty remains one of the Crimson Tide’s best overall players in his first season under Oats, producing his fourth double-double of the season, but first in SEC play.
Much of that success came thanks to more consistency from 3-point range, including making his first four 3s to open the game.
Petty’s five made 3-pointers Wednesday were his most since tying his own school-record with 10 3s in a season-high 39-point effort against Samford on Dec. 18 in Birmingham.
Since that game, Petty has averaged a team-high 19.2 points over Alabama’s last nine games to assert himself as a go-to scorer for the Crimson Tide.
Of course, it wasn’t necessarily his cleanest game of the season.
Petty’s six turnovers Wednesday night were his most since racking up seven against Richmond in the final game of the 2019 calendar year.
That said, four of those turnovers came in the game’s first six minutes, as Vanderbilt stayed close early 13-9 just 5:39 into the first half.
But after those early miscues, Petty settled down, draining back-to-back 3s in the game’s 10th minute and contributing 11 of his 17 first-half points over a span of 3:46 to put Alabama on top 31-19 with 6:15 left on his fifth 3-pointer of the opening half.
Petty finished 8 of 14 shooting, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range in 35 minutes of action before leaving the floor in the game’s closing minutes.
2. Guards guide Tide scoring wave to open second half.
Kira Lewis Jr. struggled through a difficult opening 20 minutes of action in which the 18-year-old NBA prospect managed just four points and three turnovers in 19 minutes of action.
Then he made his first and only 3-pointer of the game 4:03 into the second half when Petty gathered a long rebound and quickly kicked it outside to an open Lewis.
Lewis followed with the front-end of a one-and-one opportunity at the free throw line the next time down the floor and then broke free for a fastbreak layup on another assist from Petty just 54 seconds after his 3-pointer.
Lewis’ six points in less than a minute sparked a 14-0 run in just 2:34 as the Crimson Tide scored on seven straight offensive possessions, including a pair of 3-pointers from graduate senior guard James “Beetle” Bolden. That run gave Alabama an 18-point advantage, 53-35, after Petty made the front-end of another one-and-one free throw opportunity with 13:23 remaining.
The Tide maintained around a 20-point lead throughout much of the second half, thanks in large part to its offensive explosion to kick off the final 20 minutes of action.
3. Tide’s turnover bug returns, but doesn’t bite too hard.
Turnovers were expected early as Alabama’s players got used to Oats’ up-tempo offensive attack.
But after averaging 18.5 turnovers over its first eight games, including topping 20 turnovers three times in that early-season stretch, the Tide appeared to have resolved those issues, averaging just 12.5 turnovers over its last nine games. That included just eight turnovers in a loss at Kentucky.
That was before Wednesday, when Alabama coughed up the ball a season-high 25 times, including 15 in the first half.
Alabama’s 25 total turnovers were a season high and the most since throwing the ball away 20 times against Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 6.
Lewis led the team with seven turnovers, tying his season-high against Furman on Nov. 19, and has 13 combined turnovers over the past two games. Petty added six, while junior forward Alex Reese was one of three players with three turnovers a piece along with Bolden and redshirt freshman forward Javian Davis, who left the court with a leg injury midway through the second half.