There are some losses that are just difficult to accept.
On Saturday night, Vanderbilt’s defense held Alabama to an effective field goal percentage of 37.3%. Normally, when your opponent is shooting that poorly, you should win, but that was complicated by the fact that the Crimson Tide had an offensive rebounding rate of 42.6%. That’s... not good. Alabama is a pretty good rebounding team, but that’s inexcusable. While I hesitate to question the effort of the players (these are, after all, unpaid college student-athletes, not professionals), that’s the kind of thing that makes some people question their effort. Also: calling them “soft” and questioning their “toughness” and all sorts of other terrible cliches about Vanderbilt basketball.
What else made this loss difficult to accept? Well, Vanderbilt led 46-32 after a Riley LaChance layup with 14:01 left. Then, Matthew Fisher-Davis fouled Alabama’s Ar’Mond Davis on a three-point attempt, which went in — the foul call was certainly questionable, but you can’t put yourself in a position to risk that. Payton Willis made a pair of free throws to make it 48-36 with 13:08 left. And then Vanderbilt scored three points in the next ten minutes.
TL;DR: Vanderbilt lost to an eminently beatable opponent that was having a terrible offensive game by blowing a 14-point second half lead, which happened because the Commodores’ offense -- allegedly the strength of the team -- quit functioning for ten minutes in the second half. Yeah, that kind of loss pisses you off.
- As I said the other night, when you’ve got guys with negative Game Scores, that can cause some voodoo for the AdjGS of the guys who actually played well. Luke Kornet played pretty well last night, but a 24.7 AdjGS is probably overstating how well a guy who shot 5-of-17 from the floor was doing. Also, 14 of Luke’s 15 points came in the first half, so...
- Nolan Cressler has been a valuable reserve this year, but it’s probably not a good sign when he’s posting the second-highest Game Score on the team. Mostly because (as was the case last night) it probably means some guys we normally count on are stinking up the joint.
- Payton Willis was fine last night. That kind of stat line will work for us on most nights.
- Riley LaChance, Djery Baptiste, and Clevon Brown were fourth, fifth, and sixth on the team in Game Score last night. Riley didn’t have a particularly good game, committing four turnovers. And he was the team’s fourth-best player. What does that tell you about how some of the guys were playing last night?
- Djery Baptiste played five minutes, committed a couple of fouls, and made a steal. That effort was good for the fifth-highest Game Score on the team. What does that tell you?
- I literally do not remember Clevon Brown playing last night, and three players on the team posted lower Game Scores than he did. What does that tell you?
- All right. Jeff Roberson, well, you just can’t get in foul trouble like that. How much of Vanderbilt’s rebounding struggles had to do with their leading rebounder playing 22 minutes due to foul trouble?
- The problem with relying on a player like Matthew Fisher-Davis to carry your offense is that, well, Matthew Fisher-Davis can be contained. And when he’s contained, things can get pretty ugly on the offensive end. And while his all-around game has gotten better, it’s still not at the point where he’s helping the team if his shots aren’t falling.
- The less said about Joe Toye last night, the better.
Kentucky comes to Memorial Gym at 6:00 PM CT on Tuesday night on ESPN. Shall we go ahead and pencil in “8-8 (2-2 SEC)” for Vanderbilt’s record?