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Preview: 3-6 Western Carolina Travels to Face 6-2 Vanderbilt in Nashville

Vanderbilt returns to action when they host 3-6 Western Carolina on Tuesday. Can the young Commodores build from last week's big win over Purdue?

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt got a big win on Saturday. They'll look to keep that momentum moving forward when 3-6 Western Carolina comes to Nashville on Tuesday night.

The Commodores got a big performance from freshman Riley LaChance in their victory against Purdue. The combo guard exploded for a career high 26 points to shoot down Purdue in a 81-71 Vandy win. That effort earned him SEC Freshman of the Week honorsand set a high bar for tonight's upcoming performance against WCU.

Vandy will have a decided size advantage over the Catamounts. Western Carolina only has two players that are taller than 6'7" and neither plays more than 13 minutes per game. Instead, they'll have to focus on stopping the backcourt duo of James Sinclair and Rhett Harrelson. WCU's veteran shooters have combined for 34.8 points per game this season. They'll put the defense of Vanderbilt's guards to the test both inside the three-point arc and beyond.

Will Damian Jones and Luke Kornet overpower Western Carolina in the paint? Or will the 'Dores need another big performance from their freshmen to earn a win? Let's take a closer look at these two teams.

KenPom Rankings: Western Carolina is 225th. Vanderbilt is 71st.

Key Stat: 17.3. That's how many assists the Commodores are averaging per game - a top 20 mark in the country. They had 17 against Purdue thanks to big passing efforts from Wade Baldwin IV and Shelton Mitchell (six assists each). Vandy has solid passing at every position but center, and even Damian Jones has stepped up his ability to read double teams and kick the ball out to an open shooter from the paint. Look for that ball movement to sink the Catamounts on Tuesday night.

Matchup to Watch: James Sinclair vs. Riley LaChance. This showdown of shooting guards will pit each team's best backcourt scorer against each other on the raised stage of Memorial Gym. Sinclair is a gunner that isn't afraid to jack up threes (6.1 per game), but he also misses a ton of those shots (29.1% from long range). He's much more dangerous when he puts the ball on the floor and gets into the paint, so expect LaChance to give him enough room to shoot, but not enough to drive.

On the other side of the ball, young Riley will have to prove that he can continue his efficient offense alive in back to back games. No one is expecting him to match Sunday's breakout performance, but a handful of efficient points and contributions as a passer and defender would go a long way towards establishing his credentials as an All-SEC caliber talent.

Starters and Rotation Players:

Pos. Player PPG RPG APG
G - Wade Baldwin IV 8.1 4.5 5.6
G - Riley LaChance 12.0 2.3 2.6
F - Jeff Roberson 3.9 4.0 1.5
F - Luke Kornet 10.9 4.5 0.4
C - Damian Jones 17.4 7.5 1.0
Key Reserves
G - Shelton Mitchell 4.5 2.3 4.4
G/F - Matthew Fisher-Davis 5.6 2.0 1.3
F - James Siakam 8.3 5.1 0.4
Western Carolina
Pos. Player PPG RPG APG
G - Rhett Harrelson 16.6 1.6 3.2
G - Mike Brown 13.3 5.2 1.4
G - James Sinclair 18.2 5.7 3.7
F - Kenneth Hall 3.0 3.4 0.7
F - Torrion Brummitt 10.4 7.4 1.7
Key Reserves
F - Justin Browning 4.6 4.3 1.7
F - Tucker Thompson 2.7 1.4 0.7
F - Charlendez Brooks 1.8 1.3 0.6