Happy Wednesday Vanderbilt fans! I am sure many of us are walking with a little more bounce in our step after watching the Dores absolutely dismantle Tennessee. I was fortunate enough to make my first trip to Thompson-Boling this year and witness the first season sweep of UT since '05. There is a lot of talk over on Rocky Top about officiating and when you look at the stat sheet, the foul shots are obviously one-sided, but this has nothing to do with bad officiating as far as I could tell in-game. In fact the only call that I felt was really egregious was the tech against AJ. Steven "daddy's boy" Pearl initiated the shove and AJ was only protecting his teammate. In any case, it was nice to see some intensity from the big man, especially in a rivalry game as big as this one. More analysis... after the jump.
I was thoroughly impressed by our defense for the majority of the game. The only time that it looked like UT was going to be able to cut down on the lead and get it close was when we switched into zone towards the end of the first half. We got absolutely rocked along the baseline a couple of possessions in a row and it seemed like Stallings quickly came to his senses and got us back in man. I always get nervous playing UT due to their size, but we did a great job all night keeping them in check. I was really impressed by Andre Walker's help defense on Chism, it really slowed him down and forced a few turnovers. We didn't give away many open looks for the majority of the game and their shooting stats definitely reflect that.
So impressed with the crowd. I got in line for the game at 3:30 and there were already a good 50 students there, and at least another 100 by the time they opened the doors. I love how every year that we have played the Vols the number of fans wearing orange in Memorial has steadily dwindled. Before gametime, it was decided that the student section would focus on getting in JP Prince's head as well as giving Chism, McBee and Pearl some special treatment as well. Prince is well known for letting his emotions get the best of him, and he seemed frustrated for the majority of the game. Although his stat sheet came out looking great, he scored 11 of his points in the final 4 garbage minutes of the game.
Stallings is doing an excellent job with his players. It's clear that Taylor's performance had a lot to do with his coach putting confidence in him.
Stallings Press Conference:
"Jeffrey Taylor was special tonight. I could see that coming and I’m glad it came tonight. He was on the verge and had that look."
"He and I had a little discussion yesterday before practice. I told him that he’s one of the only guys I’ve ever coached who is a better shooter than he thinks he is."
That is great coaching, singling out a player who has been under-performing and giving him the confidence to take his shots. Often this season it looks like Taylor second guesses himself when he is about to pull up for a jumper, and he has often driven into the lane instead. Last night, I saw pure confidence when he went up for his shots, and I think that is definitely Stallings' influence.
Last night has me and the rest of the student section looking forward to having UK pay us a visit. I think that we have a good shot at getting in Cousin's head, he absolutely killed us up in Lexington. That being said, it's important not to overlook our next two opponents. Although I am not too worried about LSU coming to town this weekend, the game at Ole Miss could definitely be tough.