Always glad to get the win.
Festus Ezeli and Darshawn McClellan got the start over A.J. Ogilvy (missed practice time due to plantar fasciitis) and Andre Walker (missed practice time due to illness).
Earlier in the week, Stallings had mentioned that Festus often dominates in practice but had yet to bring that form to live competition. I'm not sure if this game really counts for Festus, considering he had about 8 inches over TSU's tallest player, but he played with fire (particularly in the opening minutes of each half, which in my eyes really set the tone for the team). He was the Commodore Radio Player of the Game, with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block in 19 minutes. What doesn't show up on the stat sheet is that the early block he had in the first two minutes and a half minutes of the game was so intimidating that his presence inside really deterred the Tigers guards from taking the ball into the lane when they were able to break down their Commodore defender. Hopefully this is a sign that the light bulb is beginning to go off for Festus. There are few players in college who can match him physically.
Similarly, there are few players in college who can match Jeffery Taylor. Another solid game for him, with 20 points on 10 for 11 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. 9 of Jeff's 10 made baskets were around the rim. He had a nice step-back 18 footer (such a smooth jumper). I hate to beat a dead horse, but Jeff's shooting percentage needs to drop quite a bit (due to taking more jump shots whenever the defense gives him a cushion). Once he realizes how great a shooter he truly is, he will be devastating and a lottery pick.
A.J. clearly had missed some practice time, but I thought he played well offensively early when the team was really looking for him. Lance Goulbourne played with great effort today and despite missing some practice time this week due to a slight concussion sustained against WKU his minutes remained above his season average of about 10mpg.
It was nice to see John Jenkins come out firing in the first half. His only missed three in the first half was in the closing seconds where he initially caught the ball with room to shoot but hesitated, pumped, then shot off-balance (fortunately A.J. was there to tip the ball in before the buzzer).
Jermaine Beal returned to form. He had 7 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers and despite not shooting that well today from outside, he wasn't forcing bad 3 pointers early in the shot clock. This is exactly what we need from Jermaine.
Brad Tinsley had a very up and down game today. He had 5 assists to go along with 6 turnovers. While Jeff had 5 turnovers as well, Jeff's don't stick with you quite as much as Brad's do. For some reason, he's making some risky decisions that haven't been paying off for the team. Brad is too good of a passer and too important a component for this team not to get this corrected soon.
Relevant Links: Game Page /// TSN Recap /// Box Score /// Official Vanderbilt Recap
During the postgame, Stallings spoke about how he was very happy with the way the team played in the first half. They hustled, played within themselves, and consequently built close to a 20 point lead heading into the half. They started the second half in the same way, but quickly devolved into the turnover machine offensively and the MataDores (pun) defensively that has cost them some winnable games. Stallings description of the second half? "Disgusting." I'd have to agree.
There's a short turnaround for the team, as they have today to prepare for the Mercer game tomorrow.
Plus/Minus Adjusted Per 40
Vanderbilt breezes by TSU, 84-71 | VandySports.com (Rivals - Premium)
Bobby's TSU Thoughts | Vanderbilt Sports Line
Recap: Vanderbilt Commodores 84, Tennessee State Tigers 71 | Dore Posts
Vanderbilt has shooter's touch against TSU | The Tennessean
Column: Vanderbilt needs floor leader | The Tennessean
David Climer: Vanderbilt has plenty of talent, but so far lacks someone to step up and take charge of the team.
Taylor's precision powers Vanderbilt past Tennessee State | Nashville City Paper
Commodores run past TSU, 84-71 | VANDERBILT OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
I highly recommend listening to Joe Fisher's post game interview with Coach Stallings at the link above.
Don't forget, the Commodore Call-In Show with Coach Stallings begins tonight at 1830 CST. Join us in an open thread starting 15 minutes before the show starts.