Upsets No. 4 Alabama 70-69 1/11/03
The Vanderbilt Commodores (8-5, 1-1) pulled off the
upset of No. 4 Alabama (11-2, 1-1) 70-69 Saturday night
in Memorial Gym in front of a raucous 12,514 in attendance.
Junior Matt Freije led the way for the 'Dores as he
poured in 19 points.
Vanderbilt opened the game with an intensity and aggression
the Commodore faithful have not seen in quite a while.
The first few minutes of the game was played at an incredible
pace. The Commodores jumped out to an early lead due
to the hot perimeter shooting. Vanderbilt hit four of
its first five three-point shots.
Junior Scott Hundley made the play of the first half
when he penetrated the Bama defense and drew a foul
as he made an unbelievable shot. That play put the 'Dores
up by 11 with 4:06 to play.
But Alabama had an answer and his name was Mo Williams.
Williams, with Alabama trailing by 10, hit an acrobatic
shot and hit the foul shot to pull the Tide to within
Vanderbilt ended the first half with a 36-30 lead.
The Commodores shot a blistering 60 percent from the
field and 71 percent from long range. The hot shooting
was in part due to Freije's perfect first half where
he went 5-5 from the field with two three-pointers.
Freije picked up right where he left off in the second
half when he made a conventional three-point play while
getting fouled on a turnaround baseline jumper. Freije
finished the game with 19 points.
After an Alabama dunk and two more threes from Williams,
Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings went to a box-in-one
defense to try and slow down Williams. Williams could
not be stopped as he kept the Tide in the game with
23 points, including six three-pointers.
With the Commodores holding on to a two-point lead,
junior point guard Russell Lakey hit one of the biggest
shots of the night as he knocked down a three-pointer
that brought Stallings to his feet. Stallings was so
excited he looked to the crowd and waved his arms to
encourage the already energized crowd.
"Our crowd was great. Our fans definitely gave
us a home court advantage tonight," Stallings said.
With the tension mounting and Alabama slowly coming
back in the final minutes of the game, the 'Dores were
desperately looking for a bucket. Vanderbilt had not
scored a field goal since Lakey's big three at the six
As Vanderbilt was clinging to a two-point advantage
with a minute remaining, Lakey started a play that was
designed to go to Hundley. But, with the Tide defending
Hundley, Lakey had to heave a three just before the
shot clock expired that hit nothing but the bottom of
That shot proved to be enough to propel the Commodores
to the first victory over a Top-5 opponent since they
defeated No. 4 UCLA in 1995, and the first win at home
over a Top-5 opponent since Vanderbilt beat No. 1 Kentucky
Vanderbilt hosts No. 18 Kentucky in a nationally televised
game at 8 p.m. CT Tuesday night in Memorial Gym. The
game is the second game of ESPN's "Super Tuesday"