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Texas A&M 69, Vanderbilt 50: No sir, I don’t like it

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This was not good.

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Four Factors

Four Factors Vanderbilt Texas A&M
Four Factors Vanderbilt Texas A&M
eFG% 35.00% 57.02%
OR% 28.20% 35.70%
TO% 22.20% 19.00%
FT Rate 42.00% 12.28%

So, let me be clear about one thing up front: I don’t think the Vanderbilt team we saw on Saturday (okay, I didn’t, because I didn’t watch the game) is necessarily reflective of the Vanderbilt team that we will see for the rest of the season, assuming that Aaron Nesmith doesn’t play again. (And for the record, I think it’s a bit telling that Stackhouse hasn’t ruled Nesmith out for the season. Reading between the lines a bit, it suggests that Nesmith would like to return and play for Vanderbilt again if he’s healthy enough to do so. Under the circumstances, Nesmith would have every reason to shut it down and that hasn’t happened yet.)

But this was terrible. This was unacceptable. This was, coming into this game, the worst team in the SEC. And Vanderbilt fell behind 23-9 in the first ten minutes and never mounted any real threat, trailing by as much as 31 in the second half before closing the gap to make the final score look more respectable than it was.

That said, Nesmith played 39 minutes at Auburn on Wednesday and didn’t appear to be injured in that game, so we can safely assume that Jerry Stackhouse learned that Nesmith was injured on either Thursday or Friday, and probably the latter. So what we saw on Saturday was a team that was (a) shell-shocked at the loss of their star player, and (b) had likely not even had a single practice to adjust to his absence. It is comparable to the Kent State game last year, when Garland went down two minutes into the game and the team had to play the rest of the game without him and lost. Garland’s absence may not have excused 0-18, but it definitely excused losing the game in which he got hurt.

This is all to say that while I’m willing to excuse this game because of the injury, I’m not about to assume 0-18. Vanderbilt won’t play Texas A&M again, but they’ll play eight more home games. Hell, as of this writing, KenPom still says Vanderbilt will be favored to beat South Carolina at home in the last game of the regular season. We’ll see how it plays out. This game certainly wasn’t promising on that front, but Stackhouse will have to figure out how to adjust. (And again, the state of the program at present has nothing to do with Stackhouse.)

Individual stats

Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PTS PF AST TO BLK STL AdjGS AdjGS/Min Plus/Minus
Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PTS PF AST TO BLK STL AdjGS AdjGS/Min Plus/Minus
Ejike Obinna 32 6 10 0 0 0 1 4 3 7 12 2 0 1 1 2 20.57 0.64 -9
Maxwell Evans 23 4 8 2 6 2 3 1 3 4 12 1 0 1 0 1 15.60 0.68 -15
Scotty Pippen Jr. 26 2 5 2 5 4 4 0 1 1 10 2 2 4 0 0 7.45 0.29 -10
Braelee Albert 5 0 1 0 0 3 3 1 1 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 5.85 1.17 -2
Jordan Wright 28 1 9 0 5 5 8 2 3 5 7 1 0 2 0 3 4.96 0.18 -15
Oton Jankovic 13 0 3 0 2 0 0 1 2 3 0 1 1 0 2 0 1.60 0.12 -5
Saben Lee 33 1 5 1 5 1 2 0 1 1 4 2 4 3 0 1 1.42 0.04 -10
Matthew Moyer 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 -5
Isaiah Rice 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 -4
Jon Jossell 10 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 2 0 3 0 0 0 0 -2.30 -0.23 -3
Dylan Disu 26 1 8 0 6 0 0 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 1 1 -5.14 -0.20 -17
  • So, the most glaring, obvious signal about Saturday’s game is the minutes played by three walk-ons: Jon Jossell played 10 minutes, Braelee Albert played 5, and Isaiah Rice played 3. (And Matthew Moyer played 2 minutes under these circumstances, which is really telling.) Albert, at least, was good enough to be recruited by Brown, but the other two are not Division I players; Jerry Stackhouse isn’t playing Jon Jossell for ten minutes because he thinks he’s actually better than any of the scholarship players on the team. He’s doing it to send a message.
  • Ejike Obinna, Maxwell Evans, and Scotty Pippen Jr. were Vanderbilt’s three best players on Saturday, but none were good enough to deter Texas A&M from shamelessly double-teaming Saben Lee (which, by the way, is how you explain away Lee’s rough performance.) I would guess that’s going to continue until somebody else on the team proves that they’re capable of making teams pay for the double teams.
  • By the way, four different players — Jossell, Obinna, Jordan Wright, and Oton Jankovic — all set career highs in minutes on Saturday.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt plays at Arkansas on Wednesday at 7:30 PM CT on the SEC Network. Arkansas is 13-2 and 2-1 in the SEC; since Arkansas joined the SEC, Vanderbilt is 3-14 in Fayetteville.