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Vanderbilt 81, Mississippi State 80: Finally, a win in a close game

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Ridiculous opposing three-point percentages are a thing this year.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
FOUR FACTORS Vanderbilt Mississippi State
eFG 62.50% 67.90%
OR% 43.30% 25.00%
TO% 16.20% 16.20%
FTRate 30.40% 20.80%

If there’s a frustrating aspect to this basketball season, it’s this. Vanderbilt ranks 1st in the SEC (and 14th nationally) in opposing three-point attempts — meaning, in conference play, opposing teams have attempted fewer threes against Vanderbilt in proportion to overall field goal attempts — and rank 14th in the SEC in opponents’ three-point percentage. Inasmuch as opponents are shooting 43.6 percent from bonus-land in SEC play, and 36.5 percent on the season -- well, this isn’t easily explainable except as a run of horrendous luck.

Particularly since Vanderbilt has been quite good at preventing three-point attempts. Ken Pomeroy’s data has suggested that defenses don’t actually have that much control over the offense’s three-point percentage — once the shot goes up, randomness takes over — but does exercise some control over the number of attempts.

In three of the last four games, Vanderbilt’s opponent has shot over 50 percent from three and that was also the case last night; when the opponent wasn’t hot from three (hi, Georgia), the result was a 15-point win. It’s hard to win when the other team is hitting literally everything, though. Luckily Vanderbilt did it last night (thanks for that, Riley LaChance.)

Individual Stats

Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PF PTS AST TO BLK STL AdjGS GS/Min
Jeff Roberson 36 6 11 3 6 7 12 5 6 11 2 22 2 2 2 1 25.1 0.7
Joe Toye 31 6 10 3 3 1 2 2 4 6 3 16 4 1 1 1 19 0.61
Payton Willis 29 5 9 5 9 0 0 0 2 2 2 15 2 0 1 1 16.2 0.56
Riley LaChance 37 6 14 3 7 1 1 1 2 3 1 16 8 3 0 2 16.8 0.45
Saben Lee 14 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 3.1 0.22
Djery Baptiste 12 1 2 0 0 2 2 1 1 2 2 4 0 1 0 0 2.6 0.22
Ejike Obinna 9 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0.4 0.04
Maxwell Evans 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Clevon Brown 23 1 4 0 2 0 0 1 2 3 1 2 0 2 1 0 -1 -0.04
Larry Austin Jr. 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 -1.2 -0.3
  • Vanderbilt’s had to rely on Jeff Roberson and Riley LaChance to carry the team, but you can see what happen when a couple of other guys (in last night’s case, Joe Toye and Payton Willis) step up their games.
  • That said, Toye and Willis combining to shoot 8-for-12 from three is maybe something we shouldn’t count on happening again.
  • Saben Lee played only 14 minutes, which was his lowest minutes total since the Radford game back in November. I don’t know what’s going on there, except that with Willis going off, maybe Drew wanted him on the floor as much as possible.
  • Djery Baptiste shooting 73 percent at the foul line is one of the unexpected positive developments of this season.
  • The bad news is that none of Baptiste, Ejike Obinna, or Clevon Brown played well — which wasn’t really an issue because, well, a bunch of other guys were playing well.
  • I fail to understand why Drew insists on starting Maxwell Evans and then giving him five minutes of playing time.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt gets a chance to ruin somebody else’s NCAA Tournament chances (which, really, is about all we can do the rest of the season) and this time it’s the Florida Gators, who just lost to Georgia at home on Wednesday night. Georgia is a team that Vanderbilt beat by 15 last week. Game time is at 3:00 PM CT, and the game will be televised on ESPN2.