February 11, 2011

Vandy finds playmakers in the clutch vs. Alabama

With Vanderbilt hobbled by an injury to Lance Goulbourne and further decimated with its best player, Jeffery Taylor, on the bench, the Commodores needed a hero down the stretch against Southeastern Conference leader Alabama on Thursday evening.

It found three of them.

Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins, and perhaps most of all, Brad Tinsley all did big things in the game's final minute, and because of it, Vanderbilt was able to turn a one-point deficit with 25.1 seconds left into a thrilling 81-77 victory.

Alabama's Trevor Relaford had just hit a tough lay-up in traffic with 25.1 seconds left, giving the Crimson Tide a 77-76 lead. But on the next possession, Tinsley brought the ball up the floor, drove right against Relaford, pulled up to the right just inside the 3-point arc, elevated, and launched a 17-footer as Relaford got a piece of his arm.

Tinsley hit the free throw, but Vandy needed a stop on the other end. When Alabama star JaMychal Green took the ball down the right baseline, Ezeli slid over in position to cut him off, resulting in Green's stepping on the inline for a turnover.

Cue Jenkins, who nailed a pair of clutch free throws on VU's ensuing possession with 5.6 seconds left.

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