Winners of two straight league games, Vanderbilt will look to continue its winning ways at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday when Vanderbilt opens a two-game road swing at Alabama. Vanderbilt’s game against the Crimson Tide will be the prelude to Vanderbilt’s primetime appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay at Tennessee on Saturday.
After losing two straight games in which the Commodores held double-digit leads, Vanderbilt continued its strong play at home with wins over Mississippi State and Auburn last week. The wins pushed Vanderbilt’s record to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. Meanwhile, Alabama has fallen upon hard times after starting the season 11-2 overall. The Crimson Tide have lost three straight league games to Auburn, Tennessee and LSU and sit at 11-5 overall and 0-3 in the SEC.
The Crimson Tide are coached by third-year Head Coach Wendell Hudson. The Commodores lead the all-time series against Alabama 26-11 and have won nine straight games in the series. Vanderbilt has had less success at Alabama, where the Commodores are 9-7.
The Commodores will look to find more success on the road in Tuscaloosa. Vanderbilt is just 1-5 on the road this season and have lost two straight away from home.
With two road games in a matter of three days, Vanderbilt’s week will be back-loaded with travel. The team will depart for Alabama on Wednesday evening and return late Thursday night before turning around and departing for Knoxville on Friday evening.
Both games this week will air on 560 AM in Nashville with longtime play-by-play announcer Charlie Mattos on the call. Fans may watch and listen to the games online by subscribing to All-Access on VUCommodores.com.
Last Time Out Behind a 24-7 second-half run and 38 combined points by Jence Rhoads and Hannah Tuomi, Vanderbilt was able to hold off a late charge by Auburn en route to earning its 17th straight win over the Tigers with a 67-59 victory on Sunday at Memorial Gym.
With the win, Vanderbilt (11-5, 2-1 SEC) improved to 9-0 at home, while dealing the Tigers (9-7, 2-1 SEC) their first SEC loss of the season.
Tuomi finished with a game-high 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting after starting 6-of-6 from the floor. Rhoads scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half and tied a career high with eight rebounds.
Vanderbilt had two first-half runs to stretch its lead to eight on two occasions, but each time, the Tigers would answer. The same would hold true in the second half when Vanderbilt’s seven-point lead at the half was erased by an 11-4 Auburn run, which knotted the game at 33.
With the game tied, Vanderbilt would go on a 24-7 run to extend its lead to 17 with 9:04 to play. However, Auburn would chip away at Vanderbilt’s lead and pull within five with 1:02 to play. The Tigers’ Alli Smalley had a chance to pull Auburn within two, but a three-pointer was off the mark with 44 seconds to play. A free throw by Rhoads and two more by Tuomi with 19 seconds to play would ice the game.
About Alabama Alabama finished non-conference play with an 11-2 record before opening SEC play with losses to Auburn, at Tennessee and at LSU. The losses dropped Alabama to 11-5 overall.
The Crimson Tide and Commodores share one common opponent: Florida State. The Seminoles topped Alabama 68-61 on Nov. 26 and knocked off Vanderbilt 72-66 on Nov. 21.
Alabama is coached by third-year Head Coach Wendell Hudson, who is 36-39 overall. Alabama returned four starters from last year’s team Hudson guided to a 12-18 record. UA is led by senior Tierney Jenkins, who leads the SEC in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (10.9).
Alabama Series Vanderbilt is 26-11 all-time against Alabama, but is just 9-7 in Tuscaloosa. Vanderbilt has won nine straight against the Crimson Tide with the last loss coming Feb. 8, 2004 in Tuscaloosa (81-68). Since that loss in 2004, Vanderbilt has won three straight in Tuscaloosa. Head Coach Melanie Balcomb is 10-1 all-time against Alabama.
Tuomi, Rhoads Pacing VU Since Vanderbilt’s game against Western Kentucky on Dec. 21, seniors Jence Rhoads and Hannah Tuomi have been the oil of Vanderbilt’s motor. During the six-game span, the two lead the team in scoring and rank second and third in rebounding. Rhoads is averaging 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. Tuomi is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. Tuomi is also shooting 57.4 percent from the floor and Rhoads isn’t far behind at 48.7 percent.
Holzer Becoming a Force Redshirt freshman Stephanie Holzer has fared well in VU’s last two games, averaging a double-double. Holzer posted the third double-double of her career against Mississippi State, collecting a career-best 13 rebounds to go along with 14 points. She scored nine points and had eight rebounds against Auburn.
Commodores’ Shooting Touch Returns After posting its four lowest shooting percentages in their previous five games, the Commodores had their second best shooting performance of the season against Auburn (52.0%).
Vanderbilt leads the SEC in free-throw percentage, and rank second in field-goal percentage and three-point percentage. Vanderbilt’s worst shooting game came against Mississippi State on Jan. 6 when VU shot 34.5 percent from the field.
Bumpy Road After starting the season 0-3 on the road for the first time since the 1998-99 season, Vanderbilt earned its first road win on Dec. 19 at Duquesne. However, VU dropped to 1-5 on the road with losses at Virginia Tech and Ole Miss. VU is averaging 80.3 points per game in seven home games and 69.0 points per game in six road games. The 1-5 start on the road is the team’s worst since posting the same mark in 1998-99.
Multiple Starting Lineups Vanderbilt has used eight different starting lineups this season. The team used six starting lineups in the team’s first eight games this season before using the same lineup for six straight games leading up to the Ole Miss game. VU used its eighth different lineup against Mississippi State.