The Commodores lost their 16th game in a row on Wednesday night as they fell 71-55 to Florida in Nashville. That means there are just three games left for the ‘Dores to avoid a winless SEC regular season.
Here are the three keys:
By Steve Wright
Sustain a run
One of the issues in the Commodores’ loss to Florida was that Vanderbilt could never seem to get a run going for a sustained length of time. This is not something that has happened often in Vandy’s losses during this streak, as more often than not there has been some form of momentum that the ‘Dores have exploited for a sustained run of points.
Yes, the Commodores had a nice 12-4 run in the second half, but they never looked like they were going to be able to run down a lead that the Gators had held since the very first minute. Even when Vanderbilt cut the Gators lead to 10, they could never get it under double-digits with a big run.
Against Texas A&M it is going to be key to get a big scoring run going. Vanderbilt is about as low in confidence as a team can get, but seeing buckets fall in quick succession would chance that narrative in a hurry. If Vandy is to win this game, then the team needs a sustained period of domination.
Cut out the turnovers
Vanderbilt has had turnover issues all season, but those issues seem to have become even more damaging over the last few weeks.
The Commodores have averaged 16.2 turnovers per game over their last five contests, a number that is simply too great for this team to overcome thanks to its limited scoring power without Darius Garland. There were 14 turnovers on Wednesday against Florida which the Gators turned directly into 17 points. Alabama had 24 points off of Vandy turnovers on Saturday, while Florida scored 26 points when the two teams met earlier in the year.
The Commodores are one of the worse teams at turning the ball over in the nation and it makes winning games so much more difficult as they are constantly trying to fight out of their own mistakes. Holding onto the ball is going to be important against the Aggies.
Take advantage of the Aggie’s misfortune
Texas A&M suffered a big loss in their defeat at the hands of LSU on Tuesday night. T.J. Starks, the top returning player from a year ago on the roster and one of the Aggies primary scorers, was lost for the season with a dislocated shoulder.
While it is not nice to take advantage of another’s misfortune, the timing of this couldn’t have been better for Vanderbilt as they will face the Aggies without the team having found a solid replacement for Starks.
While he had become more of a role player coming off of the bench this season, Starks had still scored in double-digits in four of the Aggies last five games. They will miss his energy and skill set at the point guard position greatly, perhaps giving an opening for the Commodores to exploit their sudden loss of a high volume scorer.