It was a hard-fought game between two good teams. The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State gave the Commodores all they could handle. Vanderbilt won by 7, but trailed by as many as 8 in both the first and second halves.
Vanderbilt won, Jenkins has effective at getting to the basket, and Festus was back. John Jenkins led all scorers with 26 points, but only netted 12 of those points from downtown. Jenkins was 4-11 from deep, but 6-7 from inside the arc. Better still, he converted on 2 and-1's in the second half. Festus Ezeli was incredible. He had 21 points on 5-8 shooting and 11-13 from the charity stripe in 30 minutes of the year (his longest outing of the season).
Lance Goulbourne also had a solid showing, scoring 11 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.
Dai-Jon Parker is an tremendous defender and he came up HUGE in the last 90 seconds. Coach Stallings went offense/defense for Brad and Dai-Jon at the 1:30 mark. In that time, he forced Middle to use their last time out, and got Bruce Massey to travel while pressing him on the in-bound. Having a shut-down on the ball defender is a great trick to have in your pocket.
Vanderbilt's defense was weak. In fact, in my mind, one of the worst defensive performances this season. Middle shot 57% from the field and 53% from downtown.
The bench scored ZERO points. While Kedren came in and gave the Commodores quality minutes in the second half after Tinsely picked up his 4th foul with 15:32 left. Johnson played for almost nine minutes. Vanderbilt was up 2 when Brad left and down 1 when he returned at the 6:42 mark. It wasn't always pretty, but Kedren ate minutes when that's what the team needed.
The Commodores have a big week ahead with trips to Fayetteville on Tuesday and a huge game against the Gators in Gainesville. Realistically, the goal should be a split, but Vanderbilt is an excellent road team (4-1 this year), and is certainly capable to winning bot these contests.
Sound off, what say you, VSLNation.