NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—The Vanderbilt Commodores are showing they can adapt to almost any situation.
Give them space to hit 3-pointers, they shoot away. Come out and guard them, and the Commodores happily take the easy shots.
Mario Moore shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range and finished with 16 points to help lead Vanderbilt to a 70-56 upset of No. 19 Alabama on Wednesday night that left coach Kevin Stallings very excited.
“Our team is understanding how to take advantage of what the defense is giving us,” he said.
Vanderbilt was 9-of-18 from 3-point range in the first half. Then, the Commodores attempted only seven 3s in the second half when they went inside, and Jason Holwerda scored 12 of his 16 points up close.
“Jason was unbelievable,” Stallings said. “He really was. I was so proud of him. He was great on the defensive end and great offensively. He was every place.”
Holwerda also had seven rebounds for the Commodores (10-4, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), who won their sixth straight overall and beat the Crimson Tide for the fourth time in a row in the series before a crowd of 12,231 that even included suspended NBA star Ron Artest.
Vanderbilt also won its eighth consecutive SEC opener against Alabama, a streak that started in 1962.
Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said his team must go home and regroup, especially on defense. The Tide hosts LSU on Saturday.
“This is a team that is mentally tough. There is just a sense of urgency missing,” he said.
Jermareo Davidson tied his career high with 21 points and Kennedy Winston added 16 for Alabama (11-3, 0-1), which had won six of seven.
The Commodores led 41-29 at halftime and opened the second half with a 17-3 run that gave them a 58-32 lead with 13:24 left, a spurt highlighted by three 3-pointers in the first four minutes—including two by Shan Foster.
Alabama nearly made a game of it by turning to the press, and that got the Tide going on a 24-6 run and pulled within 64-56 on a three-point play by Davidson with 5:02 left. Vanderbilt didn’t let the Tide get any closer.
Moore scored on a layup after a scramble for the ball, then Corey Smith added a layup, and Holwerda dunked for a 70-56 lead with 2:54 to go.
Foster scored 12 points for Vanderbilt, which outshot Alabama 45.2 percent to 38.8 percent (19-of-49). Of the Commodores’ 28 field goals, 12 came from 3-point range where they hit 48 percent (12-of-25).
The Commodores also dominated Alabama on the boards 41-25 in holding the Tide to a season-low 56 points.
“We would have liked to have made it prettier, but I admire how hard we played defense and how well we rebounded,” Stallings said. “That will cover a multitude of sins.”
Vanderbilt clamped down on two of Alabama’s top three scorers—Earnest Shelton and Chuck Davis. Shelton came in averaging 17.3 points a game and Davis 16.1.
Shelton missed his three shots and turned the ball over three times in the first half, once when he stepped over the end line under the Crimson Tide basket. He didn’t score his first points until a 3-pointer at 17:28 of the second half and finished with eight points.
“I was pressing, and it cost me a lot,” Shelton said. “We knew they were good shooters, and they shot lights out. We’ve got to step up our defense on the perimeter.”
Davis had only two points and was in foul trouble much of the game.
Dawid Przybyszewski set the tone for the night by opening the game with a 3-pointer, and Vanderbilt never trailed in the first half. Alabama managed to tie the score twice, the last at 11, before Vanderbilt padded its lead by shooting 50 percent from 3-point range in the half.
Moore gave Vanderbilt its biggest lead of the first half at 41-27 when he hit three straight 3-pointers within 58 seconds, the last off his own steal to finish off a fast break with 1:36. Alabama freshman Ronald Steele shaved that edge with two free throws with 1:15 left, the last points of the half and a 41-29 lead for Vanderbilt.