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Tennessee 67, Vanderbilt 62: If only Vanderbilt had made 2 of those 18 three-point attempts...

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It’s sort of weird to blame a Vanderbilt loss on not being able to make a three to save their lives, yet here we are.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
FOUR FACTORS Vanderbilt Tennessee
eFG 44.70% 51.10%
OR% 36.10% 25.00%
TO% 15.00% 15.00%
FTRate 24.60% 72.70%

VUCommodores: Vols hold off VU, 67-62

Knoxville News-Sentinel: No. 21 Vols basketball shuts down Vanderbilt early, sputters to win

(NOTE: Because of Gannett’s consolidation of terrible news, the Tennessean doesn’t actually have its own game writeup on its website, instead linking to the KNS article. This is completely unrelated but deserves to be called out.)

Rocky Top Talk: Tennessee holds off Vanderbilt to win, 67-62

Also Rocky Top Talk: Three takeaways from Tennessee’s 67-62 win over Vanderbilt

40 seconds into last night’s game, Payton Willis connected on a three-pointer for the first points of the game. Vanderbilt would then proceed to miss its next eighteen three-point attempts.

I hate to say something as elementary as “Vanderbilt lost because it couldn’t get shots to fall,” but it’s the truth. The Commodores outworked Tennessee on the boards, held even in the turnover battle, and held Tennessee to 12-of-31 shooting inside the arc (after the Vols went 23-of-40 in the first meeting.) The free throws were not even — Tennessee attempted 32 foul shots to Vanderbilt’s 14 -- but Vanderbilt would have won this game if it had shot 7-of-24 from three.

Instead, Vanderbilt shot 5-of-24 from three, with one of those being in the first minute of the game and four coming in a two-minute stretch midway through the second half, when Riley LaChance made four in a row.

Vanderbilt’s two seniors combined for 46 of the Commodores’ 62 points on 17-of-32 shooting; the rest of the team shot 6-of-25. I’ll have a post later about this — but can you imagine what this program would have looked like the past few years if not for that one year that Kevin Stallings let Yanni Hufnagel do the recruiting for him?

The other story here is that Vanderbilt nearly erased a 20-point deficit in the second half, pulling within two points with a couple of minutes left, but couldn’t finish the job. That would have been epic, particularly because this was UT in Knoxville. It’s really too bad that didn’t happen.

Individual Stats

Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PF PTS AST TO BLK STL AdjGS GS/Min
Riley LaChance 36 9 17 4 9 3 3 1 3 4 1 25 0 1 0 1 28.5 0.79
Jeff Roberson 38 8 15 0 5 5 7 2 4 6 3 21 2 0 0 0 25 0.66
Clevon Brown 22 2 2 0 0 1 2 2 3 5 5 5 1 0 2 0 10.2 0.46
Djery Baptiste 16 2 4 0 0 0 0 2 3 5 4 4 0 0 1 0 5.4 0.34
Larry Austin Jr. 17 0 2 0 0 2 2 1 2 3 2 2 3 1 0 1 5.1 0.3
Ejike Obinna 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.5 0.24
Payton Willis 23 1 7 1 5 0 0 0 2 2 0 3 3 2 0 1 0.3 0.01
Joe Toye 10 1 5 0 1 0 0 1 2 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 -1 -0.1
Maxwell Evans 16 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 -3.5 -0.22
Saben Lee 20 0 4 0 3 0 0 1 1 2 4 0 0 2 0 0 -8.6 -0.43
  • Earlier this season, a common refrain I heard was that Vanderbilt’s three seniors — Matthew Fisher-Davis (now out for the season), Riley LaChance, and Jeff Roberson — just weren’t good enough and that was the problem with the team. That seemed pretty unfair at the time and seems patently ridiculous after a game in which LaChance and Roberson combined for an Adjusted Game Score of 53.5, in a game in which Vanderbilt scored 62 points. The other eight scholarship players combined for an AdjGS of 8.5. Any questions?
  • After getting abused by Grant Williams to the tune of 37 points the last time Vanderbilt saw this team, Clevon Brown and Djery Baptiste did much better this time around — though they did combine for 9 fouls in 38 minutes and Williams attempted 14 free throws (hi, Anthony Jordan, how you doin’?)
  • Larry Austin Jr. was... fine, I guess.
  • Ejike Obinna played two minutes, just a week after scoring 14 points in 22 minutes. Bryce Drew’s rotations are interesting, to say the least.
  • Payton Willis scored the first points of the game, then basically just disappeared for the remainder of the game.
  • And three players (Joe Toye, Maxwell Evans, and Saben Lee) posted negative Game Scores, which roughly translates to “this guy is playing poorly enough that he’s actively hurting the team.” In a game that Vanderbilt lost by five points, those stink bombs wound up being a big deal.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt takes a break from SEC play on Saturday, as the Commodores host TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge at 3:00 PM CT. Vanderbilt will forever be grateful to TCU coach Jamie Dixon for taking that job and letting David Williams call in a favor and make Pittsburgh take Kevin Stallings off our hands and pay his buyout... I mean, we couldn’t do something as unseemly as hurt TCU’s NCAA Tournament resume after that, right? Right.