Vanderbilt (#7 AP/#7 USA Today) got off to a running start in their 2012 campaign to reach the Final Four, rolling over NAIA opponent Xavier of Louisiana 102-62 on Monday night.
The exhibition contest served more as a tune-up than a legitimate test, but many of the Commodores took full advantage of the opportunity by serving up big performances in limited minutes. Jeffery Taylor scored 17 points in just 16 minutes of floor time to lead the team. Freshman Kedren Johnson, a big point guard, impressed in his first game in black and gold, scoring 16 points on just four official field goal attempts and dishing three assists in 19 minutes. Preseason All-American John Jenkins didn't disappoint either, scoring 15 points and going 3-4 from behind the arc.
The win doesn't really tell us much, even though the Gold Rush are ranked 21st in the NAIA national coaches' rankings this year. The team only has three players taller than 6'6", and this helped Vandy control the glass all night and create plenty of opportunities to score. The Commodores outrebounded Xavier 41-20 in the game and shot over their opponents with ease all night. However, it may be troublesome to note that the team also gave up nine offensive rebounds without Festus Ezeli patrolling the paint. Ezeli will miss the first 6-8 weeks of the season with a knee injury.
In all, Vanderbilt shot 63.2 percent from the field against their outmatched opponents. This included a 48 percent mark from three-point range. Some other key stats are below, helpfully presented in bullet point form:
- Johnson's full Vanderbilt debut: 3/4 shooting, 9/10 from the line, 16 points, three assists, two rebounds, two steals. That's one hell of a promising start.
- Shelby Moats hit a pair of threes and pulled down five rebounds in 15 minutes of play, but also recorded four fouls in his first NCAA(-ish) game. No word on whether or not he'll redshirt yet.
- Dai-Jon Parker struggled from long distance (1-6 from deep), but it sounds like he played capable defense.
- Lance Goulbourne took advantage of the size disparity between the two teams, pulling down eight rebounds.
- Steve Tchiengang had a quiet night offensively while starting in place of Ezeli, but contributed a pair of blocks in just 13 minutes.
- Point guard Kyle Fuller led the team in assists, dishing out four in 19 minutes.
- Redshirt freshman centerJosh Henderson had only one rebound in 16 minutes of play.
- Rod Odom looked great on offense in limited minutes, but struggled with fouls.