Vanderbilt's 75-72 win over Mississippi State was unnecessarily close, still a win is a win, and the Commodores are now 17-4 overall and tied for first in the SEC at 6-1. Certainly, the last 4:00 leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Commodore fans, but let's not lose sight of the fact that the Commodores are in very good shape. Now that I've gotten the "half full" part of the post, allow me to vent.
Vanderbilt led the Bulldogs 71-59 heading into the last media time-out. There was 3:53 left, and I was wondering when we'd hit 80 to ensure I'd be snacking on a free taco from Taco Bell. Oh how wrong was I? Mississippi State out-scored the Commodores 13-4 down the stretch. Vanderbilt didn't score a field goal in the final 4 minutes, missed 2 free throws, managed just 5 shots, and allowed Mississippi State to hit 3-5 three pointers. All in all, it was a total collapse by a Vanderbilt team that would have lost had the game lasted another minute.
Colin's comments on the open-thread take Jermaine to task for his play down the stretch. I would agree that Jermaine's three pointer with a lot of time on the shot clock after an Andre Walker offensive rebound was certainly ill-advised. Would it have been a "dagger"? Yes. But that doesn't mean it was a good shot. An anonymous commenter plays the "what-ifs" game and goes down the litany of things that went wrong. He's not wrong as all the things we highlights did jeopardize the game. Still, we won.
Jarvis Vernado missed a triple-double by 1 block. His line was 12 points, 14 boards, and 9 blocks. That is a monster game.
Besides the collapse down the stretch, I am officially joining Stanimal and the rest of those in VSLNation concerned about Jeffrey Taylor. He was just 1-7 from the field, and took several bad shots that are out of his range. He might become one, but presently, he is not a jump shooter, and he forced a lot of shots. Had it not been for his 5-6 night from the line, he would have been even less effective. Worse, JT didn't score or attempt a shots in the second half. He looks completely out of sync, and his body language heading to the bench was completely dejected. Vanderbilt's starting forwards were an abysmal 2-11 from the field. Neither Walker nor Taylor looked particularly good tonight, although Jeff did grab 7 boards.
A.J. was decidedly more aggressive in the second half, despite missing several put-backs in the final 4 minutes. He scored 10 points, took it to Vernardo who should have been called for his 5th foul at least twice.
I continue to be frustrated by the play of Lance Goulbourne, who has all the tools to be a good player, but seems to constantly make bone-headed mistakes, whether in the form of bad passes, blown defensive assignments, or forced shots.
Vanderbilt's got a big test this weekend in Athens against Georgia. The Bulldogs blew a 15 point halftime lead to Arkansas (who's now tied with Ole Miss and Mississippi State for 1st in the west at 4-3). Georgia has squandered leads throughout conference play, but given the way the Dawgs dismantled the Volunteers, this is certainly a team to fear. Still, this is a game Vanderbilt, as an elite team, should win. We'll have more on that game moving forward, in the meantime, we're 6-1 and tied for first in the conference. If this is the sky falling, then I'll take it.