Thursday, February 25, 2010

VSL Gets You Ready: Vanderbilt Hosts Georgia

Vanderbilt's 72-58 loss to Georgia earlier this month was certainly their most disappointing of conference play. The Commodores shot just 32% from the field, 26% from downtown, and managed just 19 free throw attempts (their low in conference play). The Commodores were out-rebounded by the Bulldogs 43-28 and out-scored by their bench 19-5.

Vanderbilt got great performances out of Jermaine Beal and Brad Tinsely, who scored 39 of the Commodores 58 points, and hit 14 of Vanderbilt's 20 field goals. In the first half, the guards were 9 of 13, while the rest of the team was just 1 of 18. A.J. was held to just 6 points (snapping a 12 game streak of scoring 10+ points), while Jeffery added 8. For Vanderbilt to be successful tonight at Memorial, they will have to get more offensive punch from their front line. Beyond JT and A.J., I'm looking for John Jenkins to have a big game. The Future will certainly look to redeem himself after getting blocks by John Wall Saturday. Add that to the fact that Jenkins went 0-9 in Athens, including 0-7 from downtown, and I think the freshman is poised to have a big night.

Georgia is a better team than their 12-13 record (4-8 in conference) would indicate, as evidenced by their convincing wins over Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Georgia Tech at home. Still, the Dawgs appear to be a different team on the road, where they've lost all 6 of their conference games. Hopefully Memorial will prove as difficult a venue as the other gyms Georgia has visited thus far.

In Athens, Travis Leslie and Trey Tompkins each netted 17 points and proved too much for the Commodores to handle. The 6'4 Leslie was 4-8 from the field, 9-12 from the line, grabbed 8 boards, and dished out 5 assists. It wouldn't surprise me to see Coach Stallings put Jeffery Taylor on Leslie to start the game. JT's got a 3 inch height advantage, is a good lateral defender, and could stymie the dynamic Leslie. As for Tompkins, he was 7-12 from the floor, but only attempted 2 free throws. Tompkins also grabbed 7 rebounds in 36 minutes of play. I would suspect A.J. will be matched up with Trey. Unlike in Athens, Vanderbilt would be well-advised to get the ball to A.J. early. Despite missing a shot that would have sent the Kentucky game into overtime, he's been more aggressive as of late. I think A.J. is poised to break out down the stretch, so I'm also looking for him to have a big game tonight as well.

The key for the Commodores is getting more help in two areas: their big men and their bench. Vanderbilt only managed 5 points from their bench and just 17 points from their front-line scorers. They'll have to do better. After Saturday's performance, you've also got to think the Commodores will get more shots to fall from long range. The Commodores were just 2-20 from 3 Saturday, and were an unimpressive 6-23 in Athens. Vanderbilt is too good a shooting time, particularly from deep, to have a night as bad as last Saturday in Memorial, or the first Saturday in February.

As bad as Vanderbilt played in Athens, they were leading by 3 at the half and well into the second half. Then, the Bulldogs got hot. Georgia was 5-7 from downtown, and shot a sizzling 66% from the field in the second frame. They out-rebounded the Commodores 21-12 in the second half, and made 1 more free throw than Vanderbilt attempted. Obviously, if Vanderbilt is going to get back to their winning ways at home, there cannot be a repeat of UGA's second half in Memorial.

I do not see this game as a "trap," since the Commodores know they've still got a tremendous amount to play for. They are clearly a better team than the Bulldogs, and have found ways to win all season long (expect Saturday against Kentucky, of course). With that said, as LSU proved last night against Arkansas, you can't look past any team in the SEC. It should be a good one, I'm just hoping ESPNU's play-by-play announcer Rob Stone has done some more homework about the Commodores.


Anything but Gatorade said...

Rob Stone? Don't count on it.

Anonymous said...

Vandy wins by 10+ mark it down.