Vanderbilt was rolled at home on Tuesday night as Kentucky won by 35 points. Missouri was rolled on the road on Wednesday night as Auburn won by 34 points. This is a game Vanderbilt can win.
Here are the three keys:
By Steve Wright
Find the three-ball
The game plan that Auburn rode to beat Mizzou may not be one that Vanderbilt can exactly match but there are elements of it that are worth following.
The Tigers (Auburn) hit 16 three-point shots as part of a barrage from deep the likes of which Auburn has not put up all season. In total, Bruce Pearl’s squad hoisted 41 three-point attempts meaning that no matter how many they missed; enough were going to fall to win the game. It was a strategy that the team had to go with due to an injury to center Austin Wiley, but it was a strategy that proved decisive against a Missouri team that is good defensively inside, but that doesn’t have the scoring power to keep up with an offensive output that almost hits 100 points.
Take better shots
Vanderbilt had the misfortune midweek of facing a Kentucky team that has improved so much since the turn of the year that it basically doesn’t look like the same squad.
The biggest problem that occurs when facing the Wildcats is that their defense is so strong, their players so long, and their pressure so active, that it is impossible to get good shots off against them. When their offense is on, as it was on Tuesday, then there are maybe only two or three teams in the entire country that are complete enough to give them a game.
Missouri is good defensively, but they don’t have guard pressure like that put on by Ashton Hagans or a blacking machine coming off the bench like Kentucky does. Vanderbilt needs to find its offense here, working the ball around to find better shots than the ones they were forced to take against the Wildcats.
Stop turning the ball over
Turnovers have become a huge problem for Vanderbilt.
They turned the ball over 20 times yet again on Tuesday against Kentucky, continuing a trend that sees far too many possession end without the Commodores getting a shot away at the basket. Something like this was pretty much expected against the Wildcats given their defensive excellence, but Mizzou can defend the court too and the ‘Dores shouldn’t just expect the ball security to be better without putting in some thought, effort, and work.
If Vandy can cut the turnovers in half then they will have a much better chance on Saturday against a Missouri team that doesn’t score points in volume.