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Vanderbilt Doesn't Play Well, Still Comes Down to the Last Possession

Last night's 69-67 loss to Baylor was both frustrating and encouraging.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Trifecta: Baldwin-Jones-Fisher-Davis

Welcome to the Statistical, your morning-after pill for preventing the hangover from the loss to Baylor.

A road loss to a top 25 team is almost never something that's going to hurt you.  It represents a missed opportunity, because how great would a road win over a top 25 team look to the Selection Committee?  But that's about the extent of the pain.  Nobody is really going to hold it against you that you went on the road to play a Top 25 team (and that may be understating things; Ken Pomeroy, as of this writing, has Baylor as the #14 team in the country), particularly when the game came down to the last possession and you had a chance to win the game.  Of course, that's what makes it frustrating.  What else makes it frustrating...

Baylor Four Factors

Just look at the OR% and TO% columns.  Vanderbilt allowed Baylor to collect nearly half of its own misses and committed 17 turnovers (in a 62-possession game; that's pretty terrible.)  A lot of the turnovers, too, were of the sloppy, unforced variety.  When you can play that poorly against a top 25 team on the road and lose by two points, you know you have the potential to be very good.

Now, perhaps we shouldn't hold that much against the Commodores.  Baylor (per Ken Pomeroy) currently ranks fourth in the country in offensive rebounding.  In terms of shooting, Vandy's performance against the Bears was easily the worst Baylor has surrendered in a game this season (Vandy's eFG% was 57.5%; previously, Baylor's worst defensive performance in that department was 49.1% against Oregon.)  But the turnovers, at least in light of Vanderbilt's first seven games of the season, were highly uncharacteristic.  Baylor played their usual zone defense, which is something that Vandy hadn't seen a whole lot of this season, and perhaps that had something to do with the performance.

Anyway, this is a game that hopefully the Commodores can learn from.  It's also a game that should tell them just how good they can be.

Individual Stats

Player Min FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA OR DR Reb Pts PF Ast TO Blk Stl AdjGS GS/Min
Wade Baldwin IV 29 7 9 3 4 2 2 0 4 4 19 5 4 3 0 2 21.5 0.74
Damian Jones 31 2 7 0 0 5 6 3 5 8 9 1 6 3 3 1 15.6 0.50
Matthew Fisher-Davis 37 4 9 3 7 0 1 1 4 5 11 2 3 2 2 1 12.4 0.34
Luke Kornet 18 2 4 1 2 2 2 2 2 4 7 4 1 2 1 0 6.2 0.34
Nolan Cressler 18 3 7 2 4 0 2 1 1 2 8 2 2 2 0 0 4.0 0.22
Riley LaChance 37 2 8 1 4 2 2 0 1 1 7 0 1 1 0 0 2.9 0.08
Josh Henderson 6 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 2 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 2.9 0.48
Jeff Roberson 24 2 3 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 4 2 0 4 0 2 1.6 0.07

  • Regardless of what NBA Draft projections may think, Wade Baldwin is the best player on this team and showed why again last night.  It's simply hard to find too many guys with the ball skills of a point guard who also have a good jump shot.
  • Some might be surprised to see Damian Jones posting the second-highest Game Score in this one, but then you might have missed where he had six assists.  Jones seemed quiet on the offensive end because Baylor did an excellent job denying him the ball on the low block, but it's also true that the inordinate amount of attention Baylor gave to Damian led to a lot of open looks for shooters.
  • Fisher-Davis didn't really do a whole lot outside of a stretch early in the second half in which he canned three 3-pointers.  But that was a big part of the Commodores building a lead (which, granted, they didn't hold on to.)
  • Luke Kornet did not have a good game.  Some of that was foul trouble, but he didn't really do a whole lot on the offensive end (perhaps, for the same reasons that Damian didn't do much) and at times looked overmatched on defense.  Hopefully this was just a bad night and this won't become an ongoing issue, because Vanderbilt really needs him to do a lot better than this.
  • The less said about Riley LaChance's night, the better.
  • Josh Henderson only played six minutes; presumably, this was matchups more than anything else as Baylor's smaller, more athletic big men don't call for Hendo.
  • Sometimes looks can be deceiving.  I commented in the game thread that Jeff Roberson was quietly having a good game, but the stat line (particularly four turnovers) says otherwise.  I also didn't notice while watching the game that Roberson played 24 minutes.  With Fisher-Davis also playing 37, that means Vandy was going small a lot (granted, Luke's foul trouble had a lot to do with that.)
  • DNP: Joe Toye and Samir Sehic.  Sehic is not really surprising, but Toye might have been useful on the defensive end.  Perhaps at this point Stallings views Toye as not being advanced enough offensively to be part of the rotation, but Toye may become a more viable option if Roberson has more games like this one.

In the end, a loss is a loss, but there's almost no way that this loss will hurt Vanderbilt.  There is a decent chance that Baylor is the best team Vandy will play this season -- and yes, I am including Kentucky in that statement.