Before the actual recap, let's take a look back at some of the highlights from last night.
- The stink of the team's last 44 minutes was washed away: Mississippi State's finish begat the Georgia beatdown, and it looked like the funk of the UGA game might carry over into Memorial through the first two minutes of the game. Fortunately, things started to click, and the 'Dores were able to take advantage of UT misses and turnovers in jumping out to a 30-10 lead. Aside from a brief period where the Vols nearly cut the lead to single digits, it was smooth sailing from there.
- Jeffery Taylor played like this was a rivalry game: Either that, or there were some pro scouts in attendance. He drove, he hit his free throws, he grabbed rebounds, he showed off a surprisingly accurate deep jumper (!) and he finished a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line. His final stats: 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists, only two turnovers. Just imagine how nasty he could be if he could develop that deep J into a consistent three pointer.
- Maybe we don't need A.J. as much as we thought: Ogilvy's numbers were decent (11 points, six rebounds in just 22 minutes) but he failed to make much of an impact when he was on the court. Aside from a few nice offensive moves and some angry fouls, A.J. didn't do too much to rattle UT. He's fading into the third option of the big 3 of Beal/Ogilvy/Taylor, but is still capable of putting up 25 and 12 on any given night. He's like a big Australian enigma.
- Jermaine Beal is all swagger: He's making his signature play the pull up three on the fast break, giving up a probable layup for a possible three pointer. And he's been killing it. As long as he's hitting these, I'm ok with it. 20 points and four steals in another "O Captain, My Captain" type game for Dolla. Alex Gordon approves.
- The bench can survive without John Jenkins: Led by Lance Goulbourne and Festus Ezeli, the Vandy bench wasn't just holding leads against UT, they were extending them. Festus played angry the whole game and even hit his free throws, while Goulbourne hit a few shots and played solid defense. If they can play that way every night along with a healthy JJ, then Vandy might have the deepest eight man rotation in the SEC.
All in all, a great victory. It was nice to see Vanderbilt's man-to-man defense disrupt Tennessee's gameplan, and even nicer to see this team step up on the glass and at the free throw line. They earned the season sweep and have a bit of a break in the schedule with LSU coming to town, but they need to bring the fire to that game and take care of business. A 2-0 week could catapult this team back into the top 15 and make them a virtual NCAA at-large lock. As for Tennessee, there's only one recurring theme running through my head today: