The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt loses SEC opener 78-75 to Alabama

The Commodores competed with Alabama until the final whistle on Saturday due to excellent play from Jason Rivera-Torres and Tyrin Lawrence.
Ezra+Manjon+dribbling+against+Boston+College%2C+as+photographed+on+Nov.+29%2C+2023.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29
Vanderbilt Athletics
Ezra Manjon dribbling against Boston College, as photographed on Nov. 29, 2023. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

On Saturday afternoon, the Vanderbilt Commodores (5-9, 0-1) were beaten by the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-5, 1-0) 78-75. The Commodores shot 40% from the field, while Alabama shot 49.1% from the field. Entering Saturday’s matchup, Alabama was the highest-ranked team in the NCAA in points per game (92.8 ppg).  

“It was a really entertaining game,” Head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “I thought both teams competed really hard there. We gave ourselves an opportunity at the end to win the game by continuing to grind the game out.”

Stackhouse elected to start Ezra Manjon, Tyrin Lawrence, Jordan Williams, Ven-Allen Lubin and Tasos Kamateros. Lawrence and Jason Rivera-Torres led Vanderbilt in scoring with 20 points, respectively.

“As long as I stay aggressive, I think that gives us a good opportunity to win,” Lawrence said. “Maybe I could have made a few more [shots] to give us a better chance of winning. I’m just going to continue to keep grinding.”

The game’s first points came 22 seconds into the game thanks to a converted layup from Alabama’s Rylan Griffen. Lubin responded right back with a second-chance layup from a missed shot from Manjon on the ensuing possession. Vanderbilt and Alabama would exchange buckets for the next seven minutes. Manjon made two free throws with 13:37 left in the first half to put the Commodores down 19-15. 

After Manjon’s two made shots from the charity stripe, Alabama went on a 14-0 run that featured two made 3-pointers from Sam Walters and was capped off by Griffin making a pull-up jumper in the paint. Just under halfway through the first half, Alabama had a 33-15 cushion. 

The Commodores would respond with a 9-0 run of their own, with five points coming from Manjon, a 3-pointer by Williams and a free throw from Malik Presley.  Latrell Wrightshell Jr. ended Vanderbilt’s run with a made 3-pointer with 6:40 to go in the first half to put Alabama up 36-24. 

Kameteros responded immediately with a 3-pointer before Alabama extended its lead to 40-27 with 4:40 remaining in the half. Alabama would go scoreless the rest of the first half and Vanderbilt went on a 9-0 run before entering the halftime break. With a chance to improve Vanderbilt’s deficit back to one point, Manjon was unsuccessful and missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. 

Vanderbilt was in a slump right after the halftime break, missing its first seven field goal attempts of the second half. Lawrence converted on a layup with 15:24 in the second half to end the Commodores’ dry spell from the field. Immediately after the layup, Lawrence executed on an and-one to put the Commodores down 47-41.

Just over six minutes later, with 8:56 remaining in the second half, Rivera-Torres converted on a steal and made a layup to put Vanderbilt down 60-53. The crowd in Memorial Gymnasium was on their feet but were silenced 17 seconds later when Jarin Stevenson made a 3-pointer to put Alabama up 10 points with 8:39 remaining in the game. 

“He’s a guy we want to run things for,” Stackhouse said about Rivera-Torres. “He’s a shot maker. He’s proven that, not only in practice but in games. He’s someone that will be on teams’ scouting reports. He’s shooting over 40% right now.”

Nearly 40 seconds later, Manjon was sent to the charity stripe. The point guard made both of his free throws before limping off the court to head to the locker room with 7:51 to go in the game. Vanderbilt trailed Alabama 63-55, but would have to mount a comeback without Manjon. The Commodores were unsuccessful in their attempt, ultimately falling to the Crimson Tide 78-75. Vanderbilt went 2-for-11 from the 3-point line in the second half on Saturday.

The Commodores will look to get back on track next Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. CST when they head to Baton Rouge, La. to play the LSU Tigers. Vanderbilt last beat LSU in the opening round of the SEC Tournament last season. Jordan Wright had a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds that night. On Tuesday, Wright will be suiting up for the Tigers and playing against his alma mater.

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About the Contributor
Andrew Wilf
Andrew Wilf, Former Sports Editor
Andrew Wilf (’24) is Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He is from Livingston, N.J., and is majoring in history and minoring in business. He joined the sports staff his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Assistant Sports Editor and Deputy Sports Editor. Beyond writing for The Hustler, he is also the host of Anchor Analysis, Commodore Clash and Live From West End. In his free time, Andrew enjoys watching the NFL and playing golf. He can be reached at [email protected].
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