Lance Goulbourne was told he wouldn't be playing just hours before the Commodores' game in Murfreesboro, TN. Fortunately for Vanderbilt, his services weren't needed against the Blue Raiders.
Goulbourne was suspended for an unspecified number of games after a NCAA ruling declared that he received improper benefits in 2009. The benefit in question was a $258 parking pass that the then-sophomore bought from a senior manager on the men's basketball team. Since the manager was labeled as a staff member at Vanderbilt, Goulbourne was found to have broken NCAA rules and put in street clothes for the game.
Rod Odom started in his place, and Joe Duffy played a season-high 16 minutes off the bench against Middle Tennessee State. The pair combined for seven points, 11 rebounds, and four assists in 41 minutes of play. The Commodores trailed just once, and only in the first minute of the game in a rout on the Blue Raiders' home turf. Jeffery Taylor led the team in scoring with 18 points - including two three-pointers - and added four rebounds. John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, in the win.
Goulbourne's fate is uncertain. Since this is a minor violation and Vanderbilt has recent history of good behavior, it's tough to imagine that he'll be sidelined by the NCAA for too long. However, as a big showdown with Marquette looms, the 'Dores will be anxious to get him back into the lineup as soon as possible. Regular starter Andre Walker is slated to return for that game on the 29th against the 9-3 Golden Eagles, but given concerns about his conditioning in his first game back from a bout with mono, Lance Goulbourne is still a very important piece of this team's puzzle.
The game against Marquette will provide this team their first chance to play at full strength since December 1 if Goulbourne is cleared to play. It will also give the team their best chance to break through into the Top 25 until SEC play begins. The Golden Eagles will provide another RPI Top 50 opponent for the 'Dores - their fourth of the year - and if Vandy can post a win there it will pay dividends on Selection Sunday in March.