Alabama overcame a 13-point deficit in the final seven minutes to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville’s Memorial Gymnasium for the first time since 1990.
The Crimson Tide scored a 58-54 win, despite trailing 51-40 at one point. Alabama didn’t lead until Trevor Lacey‘s 3-pointer put the Tide head 56-54 with 56 seconds to play.
“It was a growth moment for our team,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “Coming out of half, we understood this could be the most important 20 minutes of the game.”
Lacey finished with 17 points, including nine during that game-winning 18-3 run to close out the game. Senior guard Andrew Steele finished with a season-high 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
“Our biggest problem has been when we go into those scoring droughts,” Lacey said. “We had that today. Some guys were missing some point-blank shots, getting frustrated, not defending. Coach Grant told us to stay the course. We just stayed the course and kept working.”
Alabama (15-7, 6-2 SEC) did it without leading scorer Trevor Releford, who scored four points and didn’t play the final four minutes. Grant said Releford got hit near his eye, and a TV replay showed Releford grabbing the side of his head after a battle for a loose ball.
The rally began when Nick Jacobs hit a basket, drew a foul and made the foul shot. That cut Vanderbilt’s lead to 51-43 with 6:31 to play. After getting the ball back, Steele sank a 3-pointer to trim it to 51-46.
Eventually, Alabama earned a 53-53 tie, and after a Vanderbilt foul shot, the Tide missed two chances to go ahead. Lacey’s basket fix that, putting the Tide up for good.
Afterward, Grant praised Steele for his contribution Saturday. Just a year ago, Steele thought his career was finished and he was working as a student assistant for Grant. When Steele was cleared to play 13 months ago, Grant allowed him to return to the team, and since then, he has given the Tide a boost off the bench.
Steele missed seven games this year with a sports hernia, and the Tide was 2-5 in those games. Alabama is 12-2 when Steele plays.
“Can’t say enough about Andrew’s leadership,” Grant said. “In the first half, he was talking to the guys and getting us back.”