Last night turned out to be another shining example of how the Commodores can win ugly. The game at the Tad Pad was filled with sloppy turnovers and lapses in defense, but in the end Vanderbilt was the more composed team and that sealed the victory. Now the team has just a day and a half to prepare for #2 Kentucky in what will be the biggest showdown of the season so far. But first, let's reflect on what we learned last night:
- These Commodores show up two at a time on offense: Against LSU, it was Jeffery Taylor and Jermaine Beal carrying the team through the first 30 minutes, then Beal and A.J. Ogilvy closing out the Tigers. At Ole Miss, it was Taylor and Ogilivy scoring by themselves for most of the game until Taylor faded out and Beal stepped up in the last 10 minutes. If one guy is having a bad night, someone has been there to step up and balance out the problems - and lately it's been Jeffery Taylor picking up the slack early in games. Once Taylor hones his killer instincts and learns how to put away games, the sophomore from Hobbs, NM is going to be dangerous.
- A.J. Ogilvy knows how to protect a lead late in the game: This is another trend that carries over from the LSU game. With a small lead and under four minutes to go, Ogilvy gets it done in the paint. He understands how to methodically move inside and either get buckets or draw fouls when the game is on the line. Versus Ole Miss and LSU, he wore down the opposing frontlines and padded the Vandy lead with solid post moves and clutch free throws. Whether he can do this against a team with legitimate big men, however, is still undetermined.
- Steve Tchiengang and Festus Ezeli are not the right personnel to break a full court press: Festus and Steve had solid games tonight, but it's clear they're still learning the game rather than running on instinct. On several occasions, the Commodores were one pass away from breaking the press and swooping in for an easy dunk/layup. Unfortunately, that last pass too often came down to the two big men. While the two played well (Festus had big numbers - four points, five rebounds, a block in just seven minutes), they both proved that there's still a ways to go until they're truly comfortable on the court. Fortunately, that's something practice can fix.
- John Jenkins isn't back at 100% yet: The freshman made a few mistakes, and while he shot well, he disappeared on the court during much of his playing time. Hopefully he shook off all the rust from his two week layoff and will be ready to go against Kentucky tomorrow.
- Andre Walker's performance was inconclusive: Seven minutes, five fouls. At least he got to rest that shoulder some more.
- Jeffery Taylor continued his streak of nastiness: Unfortunately, it's not on youtube (yet), but do yourself a favor and watch the SEC highlights widget on the right panel of the main page. At the 3:00 mark of the Vandy/Ole Miss highlights, you'll find Taylor's game sealing dunk. It was glorious.
In the end, Vanderbilt game away with a solid road win and likely sealed their NCAA Tournament bid. Ole Miss has an easy schedule down the line, and has a chance to finish 10-6 in the SEC, which would only make this win look better. Hopefully the 'Dores were able to get all the sloppy play out of their system in time for the UK game, because they won't be able to make the same mistakes they made in Oxford against guys like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.