By Chris DePew
Jan. 16, 2016
What did we learn today?: The likely focus of Avery Johnson’s practices this week. While it never really felt like it at the time, the stats show this game was there for the taking. Alabama shot a more-than-respectable 48.1 percent from the field and out-rebounded a taller, more athletic Vandy team 39-29. But the Tide blew it largely at the free throw line with an atrocious 7-for-20 effort, which doesn’t account for the foul shots Bama didn’t get to take after missing on the front end of multiple 1-and-1 opportunities. By contrast the Commodores grinded out a 22-for-36 showing at the line.
What were the biggest concerns?: Free throws. Twelve turnovers (leading to 18 points) certainly didn’t help, but that’s not unexpected by this point. Free throws. This team chases too many 3-pointers, and had only two makes until the previously-scoreless Edwards sank four treys in the closing minutes. Free throws. Also, free throws.
What was the best part of the game?: Hale wasn’t an efficient scorer (6-for-14 shooting) but still had his best game in over a month and seems poised to rejoin the starting five. He led Bama with 13 points and logged 29 energized minutes, a total cut short only by fouling out. Vandy center Damian Jones, a potential NBA draft pick, got nothing easy, settling for 13 points and two rebounds after missing his first eight shots and finishing 4-for-13 from the field.
Who was the star?: Jimmie Taylor wasn’t one of the top scorers (and contributed to the foul line meltdown with an 0-for-3 showing) but he not only held Jones in check but put up a solid eight points and nine rebounds. The next step is for him to provide that effort every night.
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