The Commodores slipped to 8-10 on the season and continued their SEC losing streak as they went down 77-62 to an improving Alabama team on Wednesday night. Next up for the ‘Dores is a trip to face South Carolina.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Continue to turn the opponent over
Because this losing streak is reaching record levels – a loss against South Carolina would tie Sewanee and their 24 straight losses from 1938-40 – it is easy to only look at the negatives when Vandy plays basketball. Sewanee, by the way, exited the league without ever ending the losing streak so technically it is still ongoing over 70 years later. Vanderbilt probably won’t go that long without a win.
One thing that Vanderbilt did do well in the 15 point defeat against the Crimson Tide last time out was get after the basketball and force mistakes. The Commodores saw the Crimson Tide turn the ball over 25 times, more than enough times for the home side to win the game. The ‘Dores scored 23 points off of those turnovers – not a big enough number – but this does mark progress in defensive intensity that will need to continue.
Find a way to stop a run
One area where this team has issues is the inability to cut a team down when it is going on a scoring run. This was an issue that was magnified as the ‘Dores went 0-37 from three-point range over a span that encompassed parts of three games. Against ‘Bama, Vanderbilt had found the ability to hit a few outside shots and the score was 32-30 at one point. Then the wheels fell off.
Alabama went on a 14-0 run starting early in the second half and the Commodores wilted. This is when the aggression needs to be picked up, with someone taking charge and making a shot. If that 14-0 run is cut in half as Alabama goes just 7-0 then the ‘Dores can fight that back. Stopping double-digit runs is a must for Jerry Stackhouse and this team.
South Carolina’s health
We know that without both Aaron Nesmith and Clevon Brown this Vanderbilt team is not the same. This also rings true for South Carolina who suffered a big loss on the road at Auburn on Wednesday without two of their own premier playmakers.
The Gamecocks were without Keyshawn Bryant and Trae Hannibal when they headed down to Alabama and the health of both will remain in question for Saturday. Hannibal was seen in a walking boot on Monday after an ankle injury, while Bryant has been suffering from chronic migraines after taking a blow to the head. Watch the health – and effectiveness – of both these pieces if they are able to suit up on Saturday.