Earlier this week, John Gasaway put up a blog post about a concept called "Easy Shot Volume Solver." The gist of the piece is that teams that don't commit turnovers and grab offensive rebounds can get away with not shooting well. Vanderbilt ranked 66th of 75 major conference teams in this statistic entering yesterday's game against Kentucky. The Commodores currently rank 14th in the SEC in offensive rebounds and 7th in turnover percentage -- meaning that most of the time, Vanderbilt has to shoot better than the other team to win.
When that's your formula for success, you are doomed if you have a cold shooting night or if the other team has a hot shooting night. In 16 of Vanderbilt's 17 wins entering Saturday, the Commodores had a better effective field goal percentage than the other team.
Saturday changed that -- Vanderbilt didn't have a monster day on the glass, but they did enough to generate a few second chances and, more importantly, managed to keep Kentucky off the offensive glass. The Commodores also committed just five turnovers. And while Kentucky's Jamal Murray scored 33 points, Vanderbilt shut down everybody else for the Wildcats -- in fact, only four Kentucky players even scored at all.
Now, Vanderbilt did get a little help from Kentucky going 10-of-23 at the free throw line -- but considering the Commodores won by 12 points, they would have been fine even if Kentucky had done better at the line.
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- There were lots of things to be annoyed about with the announcing, but perhaps the biggest annoyance is the focus on Jamal Murray. That happened because, as seen in the box score, no single Vanderbilt player dominated the game. It was just a solid team effort against a team that was apparently happy to have two players attempt 40 of their 55 shots.
- Also, one of those two players was Tyler Ulis. In the first game in Lexington, Ulis attempted 13 shots and scored 21 points. Yesterday, those numbers were almost reversed: 12 points on 20 shots.
- The starters played a total of 180 minutes (out of 200), with 12 of the remaining 20 minutes going to Riley LaChance. Stallings has really shortened his bench over the last three games, even (sacre-bleu!) doing the unheard of and playing guys through foul trouble rather than automatically benching them. One solution to lacking quality depth is to not play the bench very much.
- Also, Vanderbilt improves to 3-0 since I wrote that Vanderbilt needed to make a coaching change. In this instance, correlation totally implies causation.
This win makes Vanderbilt more secure in their NCAA Tournament hopes, and the Commodores can practically make it academic with a win in their next game. Of course, since that game is against Tennessee, we should want to win for reasons other than making the tournament (namely, because it is against Tennessee.)