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Arkansas 92, Vanderbilt 71: Just where is this team going?

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Yesterday, the numbers looked as bad as the team did.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Four Factors

Four Factors Vanderbilt Arkansas
Four Factors Vanderbilt Arkansas
eFG% 50.00% 63.49%
OR% 22.22% 34.38%
TO% 21.62% 14.86%
FT Rate 32.76% 30.16%

vucommodores.com: Dores Dropped at Home

Tennessean: Vanderbilt basketball overwhelmed by mistakes in loss to Arkansas

Hustler: Shorthanded Commodores fall to the Arkansas Razorbacks 92-71

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: No shovels needed: Hogs get early jump, cruise to victory

Arkansas Fight: Arkansas Controls Game, Defeats Vanderbilt 92-71

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I suppose I should do my job at some point, right?

Yesterday, the Vanderbilt Commodores played the Arkansas Razorbacks and had a game that was pretty typical for the team this season (though who contributed to the performance was a bit atypical, and we’ll get to that in a bit.) Vanderbilt’s offense actually did sort of okay, though a bit worse than it did in near-misses against Kentucky and Mississippi State; turnovers were a bit of a problem, and they didn’t quite get enough threes to fall (6-of-22), but this wasn’t an awful performance.

And it didn’t even come close to mattering because the defense was a disaster, as it’s been pretty much all season. Arkansas basically scored at will inside the arc (28-of-44) and didn’t do too badly outside (8-of-19), and Vanderbilt also couldn’t force many turnovers. Good shooting and few turnovers is a brutal combination, and sadly that’s been pretty typical this season: Vanderbilt’s defense ranks last in the SEC in both effective field goal percentage and turnover rate. It also ranks last in free throw rate (defined as free throw attempts divided by field goal attempts), though that wasn’t as much of a problem on Saturday.

And it’s hard to see how this gets better in the near term. Vanderbilt basically doesn’t have a rim protector (a situation that wasn’t helped on Saturday by the absence of the two closest things that Vanderbilt has to a rim protector, Dylan Disu and Quentin Millora-Brown), and it also doesn’t get much ball pressure. Giving up easy baskets at the rim is a problem that you can maybe mitigate by forcing turnovers and/or not allowing penetration, but those don’t seem to be things that this team does well, either.

So with all this said, what exactly are we to make of this team and this season? I think it might be a little early to judge Jerry Stackhouse, but especially in a season when the team’s practice time has been limited due to COVID-19 pauses. That’s especially a problem when you have a young team; notice that the best teams in the SEC (Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee) are all experienced and had a lot of roster continuity from last season.

Now, if the team still looks like this in a month? Sure, judge away.

Individual stats

Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PTS PF AST TO BLK STL AdjGS GS/Min
Player MIN FG FGA 3FG 3FGA FT FTA ORB DRB REB PTS PF AST TO BLK STL AdjGS GS/Min
Maxwell Evans 20 5 8 2 5 2 3 1 4 5 14 1 1 0 0 2 22.01 1.10
D.J. Harvey 29 6 10 3 6 1 1 0 4 4 16 3 0 3 0 1 14.57 0.50
Scotty Pippen Jr. 30 6 14 0 2 3 4 1 2 3 15 1 5 4 0 1 13.33 0.44
Ejike Obinna 17 2 5 0 0 2 2 4 3 7 6 2 0 1 0 0 8.06 0.47
Issac McBride 16 1 3 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 3 0 3 0 1 1 6.67 0.42
Jordan Wright 27 2 6 0 2 2 2 1 4 5 6 2 1 2 1 1 6.36 0.24
Myles Stute 14 1 3 0 2 2 3 0 0 0 4 0 0 1 0 1 2.95 0.21
Trey Thomas 24 1 5 1 4 0 0 0 1 1 3 2 1 3 0 2 -1.40 -0.06
Clevon Brown 23 2 4 0 1 0 1 1 1 2 4 4 0 2 0 0 -1.55 -0.07
  • This was, more or less, what we were expecting to get from Maxwell Evans and D.J. Harvey this season — but why, exactly, did it take until the eleventh game of the season for that to happen?
  • Then again, any success for Vanderbilt is going to require Scotty Pippen Jr. to play better than this. Pippen has hit a bit of a wall in SEC play, as he’s “only” averaging 17.4 ppg through five games (after averaging 23.3 ppg in the first six games.)
  • Ejike Obinna’s never going to be a star, but getting the occasional performance like this can work as part of a big man rotation. That said, he’s still not a rim protector — in fact, he hasn’t blocked a shot this season.
  • That’s fine, I guess, for Issac McBride and Jordan Wright. McBride played for the first time since December 30, and really, if everybody else is up to snuff they’re about the seventh- and eighth-best guys on the roster right now.
  • That’s not fine for Myles Stute and Trey Thomas. Stute infamously got called out in Jerry Stackhouse’s postgame rant, which led to a heaping helping of butthurt from Jerry Stackhouse’s #1 hater Jeff Goodman (who, my God, has tweeted about Stackhouse more in the last day or so than any national writer should be tweeting about the coach of a 4-7 team.) Anyway, the freshman have hit a wall the last couple of games.
  • But there is no senior wall, and surely Vanderbilt expected a lot more out of Clevon Brown than it’s gotten. Some of that, inevitably, is injuries. But... I don’t really know what’s going on there, and I’ve had said the same thing about Evans prior to Saturday.

What’s Next

Florida, in Gainesville, at 5:30 PM CT on Wednesday night. Like basically all the games, it’s on the SEC Network.