At 0-14 in the SEC, the Commodores have just four chances left to pick up a league win this season. The first of those shots is on Wednesday night against a Florida team that beat the Commodores 66-57 two weeks ago in Gainesville.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
On paper it looks like the game against Alabama on Saturday was just another case of Vanderbilt losing. While the loss was the 15th in a row for the ‘Dores, it is obvious that the players are still fighting for Bryce Drew and that he hasn’t lost the locker room despite the program-worst run.
Vandy could easily have given up and let the Tide roll over the top of them after Alabama flew out to a 22-point lead in the first half. Instead, the ‘Dores chipped away at the total, including scoring 15 straight points during a second half run, to get the game back to 57-49 with just under six minutes to play. While the game never got closer from there to a point where Vandy could have run Alabama down, it was still an impressive display of spirit and fight.
Vanderbilt shot 56.6 percent from the field in the second half, proving that scoring isn’t a problem for this team when they are taking the correct shot within the flow of the offense.
Don’t put Florida on the line
The Gators have been an interesting team this season. They have had a weird run of it in the SEC, but they are heating up at the right time and look to be one of those NCAA bubble teams that will do some damage if they find their way into the field.
Florida runs an offense that has been finesse based for most of the season but they seem to be finding their physicality as the calendar turns to March. An increased focus on their inside-outside game saw Florida go to the charity stripe 30 times against Missouri this weekend, knocking down 25 of those shots in a double-digit come from behind win.
KeVaughn Allen is one player that isn’t known for his desire to drive through contact, so if the Commodores can be physical when he tries to penetrate without fouling, then it could be difficult for Florida to generate a ton of offense in Nashville.
Keep looking to Simi Shittu
The struggles of Shittu have been well documented in these preview pieces, but against the Crimson Tide the Commodores freshman had his best game for weeks.
Shittu went 7-of-13 from the field, scoring 16 points and adding 11 rebounds for his first double-double since the 9th of January and his fourth such game of the season. His 16 points were also the most points that he has scored in a since game since he went for 21 against Ole Miss on January 5.
While it is way too soon to suggest Shittu has emerged from his two month long slump. There were many encouraging signs against Alabama. Shittu was playing with a greater energy and desire than we have seen throughout February and he was active and aggressive around the rim. Shittu scored just five points when Vandy lost to Florida earlier in 2019 and if the Commodores are to claim an upset win here then he will have to at least triple that figure and be a menace in the paint all night.