Alabama seeks to shut down a talented Vanderbilt team on the roadBy Tyler Waldrep | 01/16/2016 3:57am
Avery Johnson wants the basketball team to be faster and more aggressive on offense. CW | Amellia Armstrong
Earlier this week, the Vanderbilt Commodores (9-7, 1-3) ended a three-game losing streak defeating another team from Alabama, the Auburn Tigers, 75-57.
On Saturday, coach Avery Johnson will look to build off a dominant win over then-No. 19 South Carolina, and avoid the same fate Auburn met in Nashville, Tennessee.
“[In the last game] we got back to playing the type of Bama defense that we have been playing for the most part all year,” Johnson said. “We did a nice job of defending their top scorers and we’re gonna need much of the same against Vanderbilt.”
When the two teams clash, they will also be fighting to take control of the overall series which is currently tied at 67 wins apiece. One of the primary scorers Alabama (10-5, 1-2) will look to shut down is Vanderbilt’s lead scorer, Wade Baldwin IV who is currently averaging 14.8 points per game.
“If I were still in the NBA obviously he would be a guy, if I had a high draft pick, I definitely would be scouting pretty seriously,” Johnson said. “[He] does a nice job of quarterbacking the team, getting everybody else involved, but he can take over the game just with his scoring ability.”
Johnson didn’t know it a week ago, but he might have someone who can take over the game as well. Riley Norris finished the first game he started this season with a career-high 27 points after he shot 8-11 from behind the arc.
“I wish I could say I saw that coming, but I do know that we’ve been encouraging him to be more confident behind the 3-point line,” Johnson said. “He has always had a good looking shot.”
Vanderbilt’s Luke Kornet is also coming off of a career-game where he recorded the school’s second-ever triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks.
If Norris and the rest of the team can build a lead up earlier in the game, it might be able to rely on its defense to hold onto it. Johnson said his defense is usually quick on the transition and is strongest at the perimeter.
Those two strengths could come in handy if Vanderbilt is pressured to play catch-up with Norris or the rest of the Crimson Tide.
“Retin [Obasohan] and Arthur [Edwards] and Riley all are very good defenders,” Johnson said. “They do a great job of tag-teaming, and trying to make it hard for our opponents’ perimeter players who are outstanding scorers.”