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Vanderbilt 87, Alabama 79: Another lost season left swirling around the bowl

Saben Lee scored a career-high 38 points and Vanderbilt snapped a 17-game SEC road losing streak by humiliating Alabama 87-79 on senior night at Coleman Coliseum.

What did we learn today?: The three-word phrase that will forever define this doomed season. Nate Oats was trying to wake his team up during a first-half timeout when he inadvertently delivered the Crimson Tide’s obituary within listening range of a SEC Network microphone.

“Soft as (excrement)!”

It’s hard to disagree after falling flat against the league’s worst team by far. Vandy shot better than 55 percent from the floor, went 15-for-28 from 3-point range and edged Bama out on the glass as well. Lee in particular was unstoppable, not that the Tide seemed to be trying for large stretches of the first half. Six days after suffering a damaging Quadrant 3 home loss to Texas A&M, Alabama outdid itself by laying down against the Quadrant 4 Commodores. In the eyes of the NCAA’s net ranking, this goes down as the worst home loss of the season, even topping the upset against Penn to open the season.

What were the biggest concerns?: Eight players saw the floor for Alabama, and five of them combined for seven points and two field goals. Alex Reese missed his last eight shots from the floor after opening the game with a 3-pointer, Javian Davis was held to three points after scoring 19 on Saturday and Herbert Jones fouled out with just a single point. The Commodores have a lousy bench and frontcourt, yet had the advantage in both bench scoring and points in the paint. The worst case scenarios about how badly the Crimson Tide could be outclassed in the paint have come true as attrition and malaise takes its toll at the end of the year.

What was the best part of the game?: Hot halves from guards at opposite ends of their career trajectory. Beetle Bolden got the start in his last regular season home game and drilled five 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes. He scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half. Meanwhile freshman Jaden Shackelford was scoreless in the first half but put up 13 votes in the first 4:52 of the second half and finished with 18 on the night.

Who was the star?: Kira Lewis had 30 points and eight assists against just one turnover and arguably didn’t get the ball enough. Bama’s usual post-January swoon has overshadowed how well he has played even as the rest of the team around him has faded badly. It would be a shame if he never gets to direct a fully-stacked roster in Tuscaloosa, but the NBA may be too big a lure to pass up this offseason.

What’s next?: The last chance to avoid a third straight losing season in SEC play is Saturday at Missouri. Tipoff on the SEC Network is at 1:30 p.m. Central.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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