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Vanderbilt 82, USC 78: Shot volume makes a bad shooting night okay

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The new reality of Vanderbilt basketball: Vanderbilt can win without shooting well.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Southern California Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Four Factors

Four Factors Vanderbilt USC
Four Factors Vanderbilt USC
eFG % 44.37% 41.98%
OR % 42.22% 41.18%
TO % 17.50% 13.75%
FT Rate 42.25% 22.22%

One of the hallmarks of Bryce Drew’s Valpo teams was good rebounding, but with a roster built by Kevin Stallings, that was hard to implement. Drew’s first team — which was really a Stallings team — ranked 303rd nationally in offensive rebounding, and last year’s team improved all the way to 177th.

We don’t know how the rest of this season will go, and Vanderbilt didn’t really hit the offensive glass much against Winthrop — then again, they weren’t missing too many shots against Winthrop. They were, however, against USC, but the Commodores were able to come away with a win anyway thanks to a great performance on the offensive glass. (The defensive glass was a different matter.) In a game with 80 possessions, Vanderbilt attempted 71 field goals and 30 free throws; that allowed Vanderbilt to score just barely over a point per possession in spite of having a bad shooting night.

In past years, Vanderbilt’s roster composition has been such that the team can’t survive if the shots aren’t falling. Last season, the lowest effective field goal percentage for Vanderbilt in a win was 49 percent; in 2017, it was 46.4 percent (and that was against Norfolk State.) Prior to that, you had to go back to a 2012 game against South Carolina to find the last time under Kevin Stallings that Vanderbilt shot like that and still scored more than a point per possession.

This is the new reality of Vanderbilt basketball: bad shooting nights can still be survived, thanks to shot volume. This will be fun.

Individual Stats

Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PTS PF AST TO BLK STL GmSc AdjGS GS/Min
Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PTS PF AST TO BLK STL GmSc AdjGS GS/Min
Joe Toye 31 4 10 3 5 5 6 3 6 9 16 0 1 1 0 1 14.8 22.43 0.72
Simi Shittu 26 5 12 0 0 4 7 8 7 15 14 5 3 3 0 3 14.2 21.52 0.83
Aaron Nesmith 21 3 6 2 5 2 2 1 3 4 10 2 4 0 0 0 10.6 16.07 0.77
Darius Garland 36 6 14 3 5 4 4 1 4 5 19 4 1 6 0 1 7.6 11.52 0.32
Clevon Brown 18 4 8 0 2 0 3 2 2 4 8 2 0 0 1 1 5.7 8.64 0.48
Saben Lee 30 3 13 0 4 3 3 1 1 2 9 3 3 2 0 1 2 3.03 0.10
Matt Ryan 27 1 6 1 4 1 2 0 5 5 4 2 2 1 0 0 0.9 1.36 0.05
Yanni Wetzell 7 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 2 2 0 1 0 0 -0.6 -0.91 -0.13
Max Evans 3 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1.1 -1.67 -0.56
  • Yep. On a team with two future first-round draft picks, Joe Toye was the most valuable player on Sunday night. The biggest reason was that Toye wasn’t doing anything to hurt the team.
  • Simi Shittu had a good game, but gets dinged a bit because (a) he fouled out (let’s not talk about the officiating; let’s just not) and (b) he committed three turnovers and missed three free throws. That’s really it.
  • I’d argue that Aaron Nesmith will get into the starting lineup if he keeps having performances like this, but I’m not really sure who he would replace.
  • Darius Garland had six turnovers. Let’s not make that a regular thing, okay?
  • Clevon Brown would be a very valuable bench player if he’d stop shooting outside of six feet from the basket.
  • Saben Lee and Matt Ryan weren’t getting shots to drop, which wasn’t unique among Vanderbilt players on Sunday, but neither was doing a ton to help the team otherwise.
  • Yeah, for now, we’re basically going seven deep. Yanni Wetzell played a few more minutes than against Winthrop if only because of Simi Shittu being in foul trouble.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt’s upcoming stretch of games should leave them with a very good chance of starting the season 6-0; per KenPom, the Commodores will have at least an 81% chance of winning each of the next four games. They’ll play Alcorn State at 7:00 PM CT on Friday night; Alcorn State is currently ranked #341 (of 353 Division I teams) in KenPom. Last year’s team beat these guys 92-51.