Friday, January 28, 2011

Bobby's Final Thoughts on the Mississippi State Win

What a game. After the Commodores knotted the game at 53, Mississippi State when on a 10-1 run to take a 63-54 lead. After the under 8-minute media time out, State's pesky guard Riley Benock drained a 3 to get the lead back up to 7. I was starting to panic. Mississippi State played great defense on the Commodores ensuing possession and forced Brad into a bad 3 that had absolutely no chance of falling. Then, the tides turned. Lance Goulbourne's tenacity sprung to life as we crashed the offensive glass, grabbed the rebound, and dunked it home. And 1. The Commodores cut the lead to 4.

John Jenkins attempted, and made, 5 free throws in the Commodores next two trips down the floor to give Vanderbilt a 1 point lead. Mississippi State would only lead for 14 seconds the rest of the game as the Commodores asserted themselves and did something that had been unable to do all season: finish a game on the road.

What Sticks Out:
Free Throws: Through the first 37 minutes and 17 second of the game, Vanderbilt has a paltry 6-16 from the free throw line. In the last 6:43, the Commodores were 13-15. That, is why we won last night in Starkville. All but 7 of Vanderbilt's final 20 points to close the game came from the charity stripe, including 6 straight to turn a 5 point deficit into a 1 point lead.
Turnovers: Vanderbilt, a team who had 31 turnovers in their previous 2 road wins, gave it up just 9 times in Starkville. Even better, CKS's squad only turned it over 3 times in the second half.
Lance: He is a rebounding machine. Period. He pulled down 12 boards, including 5 off the offensive glass. No rebound was bigger last night (or perhaps this season) then his rebound off of Brad's missed 3 with State up 7 with 6:34 to play. If Lance doesn't get that rebound and the Bulldogs come down in score the lead could have grown to 9 or 10 with just over 6 minutes to play. Instead, Lance slams it home, hits a free throw and the Commodores are down 4.
Jeffery Freaking Taylor: He had the game we were waiting for. He put the team on his back, pouring in 17 points and hitting shot after shot to either keep the Commodores close, or seal the deal at the end. This was the "Derrick Byars Moment" fans had been looking for. Against Kentucky at Memorial in 2007, DB scored 21 second half points to lead the Commodores over a Wildcat team that led or was tied with the Commodores for all but the last 29 seconds. Last night, like in the Kentucky game, Vanderbilt's dynamic duo carried the day. Like Shan Foster that afternoon against UK, John Jenkins scored 21 to help the Commodores secure a win.

A Final Thought from Seamus:

If this winds up being a special season, I think we will look back at the second half of the Mississippi State game and say that is where this team found its identity. Teams learn what they're made of in conference rivalries on the road, and Vanderbilt did everything last night that they did not do against Tennessee and South Carolina. From your lips to God's ears, my friend.


Anonymous said...

I agree something special happened in last night's win. It really feels like this could be a game changer for our season.

Anonymous said...

As Gainesville looms, we need to focus on getting it done at home against Arkansas tomorrow.

Dore.ZA said...

The fact that each of our losses have been by one basket has made it clear to all of us that Vandy is capable of beating anyone, anywhere. I think (and hope) this win shows that the team's starting to believe it too. Instead of getting tentative when their backs were against the wall, they became the aggressor. To me, this was best demonstrated by (1) Jenkins drive on Sidney to draw the foul, and (2) CKS going to the full court press. Instead of standing around, hoping something changed, they forced the issue. That's a significant change of attitude for this team and I think it bodes well.

Anonymous said...

Way to jinx us guys.