NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Brad Tinsley hit an off-balance jumper with 17 seconds left and added the free throw as No. 23 Vanderbilt beat Southeastern Conference-leading Alabama 81-77 Thursday night.
Vanderbilt (17-6, 5-4) has won the first two games of a three-game homestand with No. 18 Kentucky visiting Saturday to remain knotted with three others for second in the SEC's Eastern Division.
Alabama (15-8, 7-2) came in having won five straight and 10 of 11 with the Tide's best start in SEC play since 2001-02. But the Tide hasn't won in Memorial Gym since 1990 and couldn't finish this one off in a game that featured 11 ties and 10 lead changes.
JaMychal Green had a chance to tie it again as he drove to the basket, only to step up on the end line and turn the ball over with 6.3 seconds left.
John Jenkins hit two more free throws with 5.1 seconds remaining to pad Vandy's lead. Charvez Davis' long 3 over a couple defenders was off target.
Jenkins finished with a team-high 20 points for Vanderbilt. Jeff Taylor had 19 before fouling out, Tinsley had 15 and Festus Ezeli had 11.
Green finished with 23 points for Alabama, including shooting 10 of 11 at the line. Tony Mitchell scored 22 points, and Trevor Releford had 11 before fouling out late.
The Tide came in with the nation's third-stingiest defense and best in the SEC, holding opponents to 57.1 points per game. Vanderbilt is the SEC's best scoring offense, and the Commodores matched what Alabama had been allowing with less than 12 minutes left.
Alabama dominated inside as the Tide shredded Vanderbilt's zone defense by going to the basket over and over for dunks and layups. The Tide outscored Vandy in the paint 46-18 and shot a season-high 55.6 percent from the floor (30-of-54).
But Alabama went just 2 of 15 beyond the arc. The Commodores also had a big edge at the free throw line (22-of-27) where they hit eight of nine in the final 2:04 compared to the Tide (15-of-19).
Vanderbilt never led by more than five in the final 15 minutes. Each time Alabama got the lead, the Tide couldn't push it past a couple points. The Commodores cooled Alabama off a bit by stiffening up their zone, forcing the Tide into a shot-clock violation with 3:15 left.
The Commodores led 42-39 at halftime after leading by as much as 11 twice. Mitchell added a free throw and a jumper off a fast break after a turnover by Tinsley. He hit a big 3 a couple of seconds before the buzzer to pull Alabama close and celebrated by jumping up and down as he ran to the bench.