It was, perhaps, a sign of how the 2018-19 season is going for the Vanderbilt Commodores that we could all feel the sense of dread coming on with 13:51 left in the game and Vanderbilt holding a 50-38 lead. You should never feel bad about a 12-point lead, and yet in a season that has seen poor starts and poor finishes and everything in between, nobody was counting any chickens.
Indeed, Vanderbilt would go the next five minutes without scoring a field goal, allowing the Gamecocks to claw their way back into the game — and yet, when Aaron Nesmith broke the drought with a three-pointer with 8:50 left, Vanderbilt still led 55-50.
No, it would take a bit more than that to blow this one. With less than two minutes left, Saben Lee made a jumper to put Vanderbilt up 68-63, and then blocked Hassani Gravett’s shot at the other end. Good sequence, right? Well, not quite. Lee got whistled for a technical foul — let’s remind everyone, the officiating was awful all night, Gravett made both free throws, and then added on a three-pointer (following an offensive rebound) on the ensuing possession. Suddenly, the game was tied, and Vanderbilt looked like it would make the plays to win, just maybe — until Matt Ryan got called for a questionable foul with 23 seconds left and Vanderbilt holding a one-point lead. A.J. Lawson made both free throws, Saben Lee’s 18-footer missed, and Aaron Nesmith’s desperation heave at the buzzer missed as well. And Vanderbilt found itself with a 74-71 loss and an 0-4 SEC record.
This sucks. This really, really sucks.