"What the hell did we just watch here?"
The only consolation that Vanderbilt fans can take away from today's game with Cleveland State is that things couldn't have gotten much worse.
The Vikings rolled the #7 Commodores 71-58 in the second game of the 2011-2012 campaign. Vanderbilt simply looked lost in Memorial Gym, botching everything from turnovers to free throws in a contest they never led in. John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor, Vandy's returning stars, combined for 26 sloppy points on 8-22 shooting.
Vanderbilt struggled to find their rhythm early as Cleveland State jumped out to an 11-4 lead four minutes into the game. Commodore turnovers and blown assignments gave the Vikings plenty of easy opportunities to push their lead, creating a deficit that grew to as many as 16 points in the first half. Kevin Stallings was able to rally his team at the half and cut CSU's lead to three points midway through the second frame, but Vanderbilt turnovers squashed any chance of a game-altering run.
Mistakes doomed Vandy throughout the contest. The 'Dores finished with 21 turnovers and shot just 36 percent from the field. Jenkins and Taylor combined for nine turnovers in a game where both players got caught up trying to force their offense on the court. The final 10 minutes of the game saw Cleveland State pulling away with easy baskets every time Vanderbilt threatened the CSU lead.
Steve Tchiengang did a solid job on the glass in Festus Ezeli's place, but couldn't replicate the senior center's presence in the post. Cleveland State scored effectively in the paint, shooting 50 percent from the field and taking advantage of Vandy's lax defense. Tchiengang finished with 10 rebounds - including six offensive boards - but scored just five points on 1-5 shooting. The team's bench, a strength in 2011-2012 thanks to the presence of some highly-touted freshmen, contributed only nine points.
The loss will drop Vanderbilt out of the top ten in the national rankings. They'll have a chance to regroup on Tuesday with a home game against Bucknell.