By Chris DePew
Feb. 9, 2019
Where to watch: Alabama (14-8, 5-4 SEC – #48 Pomeroy Rating) at Vanderbilt (9-13, 0-9 – #130) – Today, 7:30 p.m. Central, Memorial Gymnasium, SEC Network
Who to watch: Donta Hall. It had been quite a while since Hall wasn’t a factor in the scoring column, but that’s what happened against Georgia, with foul trouble limiting him to three points in 18 minutes. That came on the heels of an eight point, 10 rebound effort at Auburn that looked more impressive on paper but didn’t really register in the closing minutes of a blowout loss. Hall needs to be sharper (particularly if a concussion leaves backup Galin Smith unavailable), and he’ll be going against Simisola Shittu, arguably Vandy’s best all-around player. But the 6-foot-10 freshman has struggled in SEC play, averaging less than 9.5 points per game compared to 12 for the full season while continuing to be turnover prone. This is a fine opportunity for a senior like Hall to school the newbie.
What to watch for: Weathering any emotional surges. There’s no guarantee that the Commodores will come out fired up after another tough loss midweek left them winless halfway through league play. But Vandy took top-ranked Tennessee to overtime last month and lost two other SEC games by a single possession. The Dores may believe they are playing for the job of head coach Bryce Drew, and could also be emotional in their first game after the unexpected death of former athletic director David Williams just days after his retirement. A Vandy hot streak, especially early, could throw the Crimson Tide off balance in a building where it has historically wilted.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris