Vanderbilt: 86 Tennessee: 69
Walk-On Nathan Watkins, Carter Josephs, and Josh Henderson each got a rare start in front of 13,099 fans on senior night in Nashville. Although they have not been huge contributors this year, Nathan Watkins scored the first bucket of the game for Vanderbilt. What a great way to send out these hard working seniors as the ‘Dores finished up a season sweep of the Vols, their first over UT since the 09-10 season. Wade Baldwin was fired up about a win over Vandy’s biggest rival and mentioned in the post game interview that he understands how important this win is for the fans.
Tennessee was without star guard Kevin Punter, their leading scorer, and started three freshman. The Vols are a very young team as of now which made it easy for the ‘Dores to take advantage of them. Vanderbilt dominated every hustle category and most major scoring categories in general. They outscored the Vols in fast break points, second chance points, bench points, points in the paint and points off turnovers. These are each big stats because whichever team plays better fundamentals and more as a team usually wins the game.
There were several factors Tuesday night that helped the Commodores to a big win. The crowd was electric, it was senior night and they were playing a big rivalry game. The crowd and atmosphere in Memorial Gymnasium was great. The game was a white out, as it is annually against Tennessee, and a nearly sold out crowd came out to support the seniors. Senior nights are always huge because even if not a senior, every player wants to win and play well for their seniors that have mentored them into the program.
The Vanderbilt Commodores won this game because they were fundamentally and skillfully a better team and they out hustled the Vols. Vanderbilt scored 62 bench points to Tennessee’s 14. For a team that is without their number one scorer, the Vols needed a lot more help from their bench if they wanted to pull off an upset. This is a huge stat for Vandy, however, as they have struggled to find bench points all year and they will need more games like this to make a deep run in the tournament.
Nolan Cressler had a great game against Tennessee. The Cornell transfer had 11 points and two assists in 12 minutes. I really like Cressler as he is not afraid to take the ball to the rim but also has a fairly smooth stroke from outside. Look for him to be a key role player come postseason time.
Matthew Fisher-Davis struggled last night as he shot 2-10 from the field and missed all four shots from behind the arc. He ended the game with 6 points, 2 assists and a steal in 24 minutes. Fisher-Davis has to be able to step up and hit clutch shots for the ‘Dores down the stretch.
This was a nice win for Vandy as they are now safely inside the tournament as a 9 seed according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. They play the 20th ranked Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday March 5 in college station. With a win on Saturday, the Commodores could jump to an even higher seed and would also sweep the Aggies for the season. If Texas A&M wins then they will claim at least a share of the regular season SEC title. If Vandy can win, they will move to a tie for second in the league and could share a first place title if Kentucky slips up against LSU.
Go ‘Dores and Anchor Down!
University of Dayton ’18