The Vanderbilt Commodores (10-10, 3-4) travel to College Station Saturday night (7:30 pm CT on SEC Network) to take on the Texas A&M Aggies (14-6, 6-1). The ‘Dores are coming off their worst performance of the season in a 69-53 home loss to Kentucky last Tuesday night. The Aggies meanwhile just got done beating #15 Auburn on the road in an impressive 79-63 victory. Coach Stackhouse described the performance against Kentucky as “disappointing” and said the Commodores were “a step slow” in his post-game press conference. Vanderbilt will have to quickly correct their mistakes as they are slated to take on a very solid Texas A&M team who has won 8 of their last 9 games. There really isn’t one thing that the Aggies excel at, instead, they are well-rounded in multiple phases of the game. Stackhouse did mention he has noticed his team has had a better sense of “togetherness” on the road and they will need that to reign true Saturday night. Here are the three things I am looking for, for Vanderbilt to pull out a victory.
Take and Make the 3
Vanderbilt’s offense without Robbins and Dort has been a roller coaster the past two weeks. When they are knocking down shots they are able to score with anyone, but when things are not falling their offense is hard to watch. Texas A&M is about average in defensive rating over the season, but in SEC play they have been above average. One area that they can be beaten is they give up a lot of 3-point attempts and makes. Opponents are shooting 34% from three-point range against the Aggies and Vandy has the guys to make them pay from deep. This could be a big game for Myles Stute to return to his early season form of a lethal three-point shooter and look to get his shots off. After his hot start to the season teams started to key in on him and not let him get his shots off. He went through a stretch of not getting many clean looks and started to attempt to drive the ball more and it has not been very successful for him. Now he looks indecisive to shoot even when he gets a little bit of space. He is a good shooter and below average putting the ball on the floor so I would like to see him come off screens ready to shoot with more conviction. Trey Thomas has also been ice cold from three lately and missing some really wide-open looks. For a team that is already limited offensively, they cannot afford their two best shooters to be timid about missing the few clean looks that they are getting. This could be a good matchup for them to get back on track as I highlighted A&M being susceptible to the three.
Prevent Offensive Rebounds (Again)
This key is similar to one they needed to prevent against Kentucky and Oscar Tshiebwe. A&M does not have a big man as dominant as Tshiebwe, but they do have two solid post players in Henry Coleman and Julius Marble. Their guards also do a good job of getting in the paint and grabbing rebounds when shots go up so Vanderbilt’s guards will have to be conscious of putting a body on them and boxing out. The Aggies are near the top of the country grabbing 10.5 offensive rebounds per game. Their offense is strongly led by guards Wade Taylor IV (14.8 ppg) and Tyrece “Boots” Radford (13.6 ppg) so when Vandy is able to get stops they need to find a way to limit A&M’s second-chance opportunities.
Establish a Consistent Rotation
The rotation of players used for Vanderbilt has been about 10-11 guys deep and a carousel of who is coming off the bench to get minutes from game to game. With so many moving parts, this could be leading to inconsistencies on the offensive. Every night it seems to be different guys coming in, in different spots getting more minutes than the game before. I would like to see Stackhouse limit that down to about 8-9 guys to allow their best players to see the floor more and get a better feel for each other on the floor. I understand not wanting to burn your main guys out by playing them too much but 8-9 guys are plenty enough to rotate throughout the game to give guys adequate time to rest and not lose their feeling of what is going on. Too many times key guys are coming out of the game and spending long stretches of the game on the bench watching other teams go on big runs against our backup unit. Jordan Wright was benched in the Kentucky game down the stretch due to his “selfishness” as Stackhouse put it, so he should be plenty rested and should log a ton of minutes tonight against this veteran Aggies team if Vanderbilt wants to have a chance to knock them off.
I mentioned in the postgame recap of the game against Kentucky that even when this team has a clunker and looks lost they have found ways to bounce back right away and give you hope again. I think tonight is no different and they find a way to get the job done on the road against a defense that does not match up well with Vandy’s strengths. Vanderbilt gets the job done 76-71 in College Station.
Leave a Reply