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Alabama rides nation’s best offense against Vanderbilt

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Visiting Alabama seeks its first true road win while continuing its recent dominance over Vanderbilt when the teams meet Saturday in the SEC opener for both in Nashville, Tenn.

The Crimson Tide thrashed Commodores last season, leading by as many as 23 points in an eventual 78-66 win in Nashville on Jan. 17 and then hammering the Commodores 101-44 in the rematch two weeks later in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Heading into Division I play Friday, Alabama (8-5) led all teams in scoring offense (92.8 points per game) and has topped 100 points five times. The Crimson Tide also scored 98 and 99 points in wins over Mercer and Oregon.

Vanderbilt hasn’t allowed more than 84 points in a game but ranks 215th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency due to a weak schedule that is ranked 266th nationally.

Alabama, with a No. 14 strength of schedule, has top-end firepower in Mark Sears (19.3 points per game), Grant Nelson (14.2) and Aaron Estrada (13.8), as well as depth — with 10 players averaging at least 5.0 points.

Six Crimson Tide players scored in double figures when Alabama ripped Liberty 101-56 last Saturday. Liberty is tied for 10th in the nation in scoring defense at 61.3 points.

“I thought it was a pretty good game,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “Our defense kept them out of what they do well. … Our energy was good, our rebounding was good and that was a huge point of emphasis, making free throws and being good on the glass.”

Vanderbilt’s Ezra Manjon scored a game-high 23 in last Saturday’s 69-53 win over Dartmouth, while Tyrin Lawrence added a season-high 22.

Injuries have been a major issue for Vanderbilt, which played without leading active rebounder Ven-Allen Lubin (5.4 per game) for all but nine minutes of the last three games due to a groin injury.

Lawrence, a preseason second-team All-SEC pick, missed the first four games due to a foot injury.

“He’s had some nicks and stuff and I don’t think he’s been 100 percent,” Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse said of Lawrence.

Stackhouse was optimistic that Lubin will be available against Alabama.

–Field Level Media

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