Vanderbilt vs. Alabama
SEC Tournament
82 - 69
March 13, 2003
New Orleans, La.


Final Box Score

Box Score

Updated Cumulative Stats

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The team that was No. 1 in December may not be part of the madness in March.

Alabama's NCAA hopes took a major blow when the Crimson Tide lost to Vanderbilt 82-69 in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday night.

Freshman Mario Moore scored a career-high 25 points and the Commodores took control with an early 12-0 run. Moore, who was averaging just 4.9 points per game, made six 3-pointers.

Vanderbilt (11-17) won for the first time since Feb. 1, snapping a nine-game losing streak.

Alabama (17-11) will certainly go down as one of the year's biggest disappointments. The Tide was ranked No. 1 in December but has been in a freefall since then.

After starting the season 9-0, Alabama may have played its way into the National Invitation Tournament by winning only eight of its last 19 games.

Alabama can hope that a strong RPI and the 12th-toughest schedule in the country will overcome its dismal finish. But that seems unlikely, considering the Tide had a losing record in its own league.

Vanderbilt will be hard-pressed to pull of another upset. The Commodores advanced to a Friday night game against No. 2 Kentucky, the regular-season champion and a perfect 16-0 in league play.

Last week, the Wildcats blew out Vandy 106-44 in Lexington.

For one night, at least, the Commodores can celebrate. They never trailed, hitting their first eight shots - half of them from behind the 3-point arc. Even when Vandy finally missed, Brian Thornton grabbed the rebound and laid it back in.

Moore scored the game's first basket from outside the arc. After Antoine Pettway answered with a trey of his own, Vandy scored the next 12 points.

The Commodores twice built the lead to 13 points in the opening half, and they went to the locker room with a 46-37 lead after Moore hit another trey with five seconds left.

Moore eclipsed his previous high of 17 points in a Jan. 14 loss to Kentucky.

Maurice Williams, who led Alabama with 24 points, tried to exhort his teammates, pounding his chest after hitting a long jumper to make it 77-69 with 2:10 remaining. But Vandy scored the final five points to match its biggest lead.

The Commodores made 24-of-47 shots (53.2 percent) from the field. More impressively, the SEC's worst defensive team limited Alabama to 24-of-61 (39.3 percent).

Sagging in the middle, the Commodores were able to stymie Erwin Dudley, who was averaging 15 points and 9.7 rebound per game. The 2001 SEC player of the year didn't score in the first half and finished with just six points and five rebounds.

Maybe the outcome wasn't that big a surprise. Vandy swept the Tide this season, also winning 70-69 during the regular season.

The game was played before a sparse turnout of 8,526 in the cavernous Superdome - the smallest crowd for an SEC tournament game since 1996.

The crowd was hurt by the lack of a second game for the night session. Georgia dropped out of the tournament on Monday because of academic fraud involving two players, forcing the conference the redo its schedule.

At least two Georgia fans still showed up. They held up a sign that said, ''Suspended Without Play,'' a reference to coach Jim Harrick's suspension with pay.

1 2 F
VANDERBILT 46 36 -- 82
ALABAMA 37 32 -- 69


Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
615-322-GOLD (4653)