Well, this one is going to sting for a very long time. Vanderbilt lost to the 235th ranked team in the country on Saturday, falling to Mississippi State on the road in a sloppy display. The Commodores were outrebounded 41-28, outshot 38.6 to 38.5%, and outscored 57-54 in the team's worst loss of the season.
Damian Jones had 21 points and eight rebounds in the loss. Riley LaChance added 12, but he needed 13 shots to get there. I.J. Ready led a balanced Bulldog scoring attack with 11 points. Seven different Mississippi State players had five points or more.
The Commodores opened up a 12 point lead in the first half, but then promptly forgot how to play basketball in the second . An 0-6 shooting, four foul stretch paved the way for 16 straight Bulldog points that brought a crowd of tens in Starkville to their feet. They took a 42-35 lead and stretched that advantage deep into the second half thanks to a litany of foul calls that dogged the 'Dores quest for a road conference win.
Damian Jones took advantage of State's leaky post defense to help bring the Commodores back to 50-52 with two minutes to play. Riley LaChance tied it up at 52 with a pair of free throws, but I.J. Ready's dagger three swung MSU's win probability to a huge number with 1:12 to play. Jones had a runaway dunk that cut the lead to one, but Ready calmly hit both free throws on the other end to ensure overtime at the worst for the Bulldogs. Wade Baldwin IV's last-second three-pointer was off the mark, and the 'Dores dropped a winnable road game to the team that had previously sat in the SEC's basement.
Vanderbilt fell to 1-3 in league play, while MSU improved to 1-3. Things won't get much easier for this young team in the coming week. They travel to Rupp Arena to face #1 Kentucky on Tuesday.