If you concentrated hard enough, you were able to catch a little basketball between foul calls. Classic, physical rivalry game between two teams that weren't going to back down from one another. As a lifelong Vandy fan, I never thought I'd be saying this: Vanderbilt outswaggered Tennessee on their home court.
With the victory, Vanderbilt has control of sole possession of first place in the SEC. Also, Vanderbilt proves my corollary true. Next opportunity to test it? Saturday in Lexington.
Despite his two technical fouls, J.P. Prince had a great night, scoring 22 points. Unfortunately for Volunteer fans, Jermaine Beal had an even better night, scoring 25 points (matching the single-game season high for points scored by a Commodore this season), 2 points shy of his career best. Vanderbilt took advantage of double-digit scoring from five players (four starters; Andre Walker was 1 point shy at 9 total points) to pull away from Tennessee in a game where neither team seemed able to get into any kind of offensive rhythm.
|Points Per Possession||1.18||1.05|
In my preview, I predicted that "UT wins TO% while Vanderbilt controls OReb% and FTRate. eFG% is a toss up in my mind. Winning that category may just determine the winner of the game." Prophetic? I give myself my second navy cross for my fine work.
Plus/Minus Adjusted Per 40 Minutes
FESTUS EZELI! Welcome to the party, big fella! Festus' play was key in stopping Tennessee's dribble penetration. Surprising to me was Jeffery Taylor's negative number. I'm attributing it to a subpar game both offensively and defensively, and to the fact that he was being used on the defensive end of Coach Stallings' offense/defense substitutions in the second half (at least if I recall correctly). A.J. did not have a great game, and that was reflected in his +/- numbers.
All in all, a very important road victory. Next up: Kentucky Wildcats. You know the team is going to be looking forward to taking Kentucky's best shot after their loss to South Carolina on Tuesday. Bottom line - just another opponent.
"Beal was special," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "Part of our success against Vanderbilt in the past was that we had got the better of him. Everybody talks about A.J. Ogilvy and whether he's a factor, but in my mind Beal has always been the guy that has made the team go."
Additionally, he was assessed a pair of technical fouls.
The first came via an emotional outburst. He took a swing at Vanderbilt’s Andre Walker after the whistle with 16:37. Walker’s response earned him a technical at the same time. The second came with the conclusion of his offensive outburst. After his 3-pointer with 16:14 to play broke a 39-39 tie, his running dunk 40 seconds later made it 44-39. He hung on the rim after the dunk though and was assessed another technical.
By rule, two technical fouls means a player is disqualified. In this case, though, there was a difference in the type of technicals.
"The last one was an ‘indirect technical,’ which I don’t know what that means," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "… It’s (the officials’) job to know the rules, and they do. … It’s good that they know because I sure didn’t."
Classic Stallings: a very subtle dig at the officials veiled in making fun of himself.
His nickname is “Dolla Beal.”
And sure enough, Jermaine Beal was money Wednesday night in No. 23 Vanderbilt’s 85-76 victory over 14th-ranked Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Or better yet … straight cash.