Postgame; Rebounding, Free Throws Helps Ole Miss Beat Vanderbilt

Ole Miss: 85  Vanderbilt: 78

Here we are again looking at another disappointing Vanderbilt Commodores loss. After stunning No. 8 Texas A&M on Thursday at Memorial Gymnasium, Vandy was unable to bounce back 48 hours later in Oxford, Mississippi. How tough can it be for a group of young men to play two games in a 48 hour span? Extremely. On Thursday we had the pleasure of seeing the true potential that this team could still have for the first time all year. They played as hard as they could with what Coach Stallings called a “hungry” attitude. It’s already a tall task to play on the road in conference play, but this team looked flat out tired.

No matter how good your team may be in college basketball, if they do not show up in a conference game, especially on the road, there is a good chance of them getting beat. The Commodores were out rebounded and out hustled all game long. Despite only having three less rebounds than the Rebels all game, the Commodores gave up a whopping 19 offensive boards to Ole Miss. The Rebels shot just 35.8% from the field compared to Vandy’s 45.6%, but they were able to make up for by getting the loose balls and rebounds that mattered most.

What truly hurt Vanderbilt even more was the foul trouble that almost every player got into. Damian Jones, Jeff Roberson, and Wade Baldwin IV each fouled out at key moments in the closing minutes of the game. These three guys are at the core of the talent this roster holds and for each of them to foul out late in the game was a devastating blow to the ‘Dores that they just could not overcome. Despite the fact that I believe Vandy would have won the game had these three guys stayed in the game, this is the adversity that teams must face and overcome week in and week out if they want to make a run in the big dance. After last night’s performance, it’s pretty tough to trust the bench play from Vandy despite that they have had their moments this year.

I know I said it earlier, but it is worth mentioning again that this Ole Miss team just looked like they had more heart this game. Vandy stayed in it all game because they do have a ton of talent, but they weren’t able to get the loose balls to bounce their way. Maybe there were several unlucky bounces and, hey, that happens sometimes, but the amount of offensive rebounds that the Rebels were able to come down with truly showed how dominant they were last night. Rebounds can make or break games, and this time, they did.

Another huge contributing factor to this game were free throws. The Ole Miss Rebels got to the free throw line last night quite a few times. They made as many free throws (27-38, 71.1%) as Vanderbilt even shot (17-27, 63.0%). The Rebels shot a total of eleven more free throws and, while they didn’t have a great night at the line, Vandy was absolutely horrendous. It’s easy to say that if a couple things went different in any game, the other team would have won but it hurts quite a bit that the ‘Dores shot a lowly 63% at the stripe.

Tomasz Gielo from the Rebels had an astounding night off the bench with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 29 minutes, despite fouling out by receiving a technical foul. When Gielo received the ball at the free throw line with the Vandy zone assembled around him, ‘Dores fans had to hold their breath as he always seemed to get a wide open shot, or find the open man for an assist or pass-to-assist.

Matthew Fisher-Davis struggled yet again shooting 0-3 from the floor which led him to zero points and had a turnover despite playing 28 minutes. Fisher-Davis has been the guy all year to nail a couple of back-to-back threes to end a long run, which the Rebels had several of. He was not able to stop those runs and no one else stepped up. He did, however, play well defensively as he was given the tough task of guarding Ole Miss star Stefan Moody throughout various points of the game.

A mix of Wade Baldwin IV, Matthew Fisher-Davis, and Riley Lachance kept Stefan Moody in check last night. Moody has been a long range scorer who also has a quick first step which makes him a huge matchup problem for several teams. Just looking at his numbers (23 points, 4 assists, 1 board, 3 turnovers, 39 minutes) it would seem Vandy fell victim to this matchup problem as well. However, Moody only shot 5-25 from the field (20%) and 3-15 from long range (20%). How did he score so much? Free throws. He is the Rebels best shooter at the line and he showed it last night shooting 10-10.

Because of the circumstances, this was a disappointing loss for the Commodores who were fresh off defeating No. 8 Texas A&M, their first win over a ranked opponent since 2012. They seemed to have a lot of momentum coming into this huge road game and needed another win to help their tournament resumé. According to Joe Lunardi of ESPN, before the Commodores game last night they were the very last team in the tournament and are now part of the “first four out”. The ‘Dores return to action on Wednesday, February 10 at 9:00 P.M. Eastern on SEC Network as they host the Missouri Tigers in Nashville, TN at Memorial Gymnasium in what is truly a must win game.

Go ‘Dores and Anchor Down!

Knox Hargis

University of Dayton ’18

Knox Hargis

Born in Nashville. TN, now at the University of Dayton. Avid Commodores fan in all things sports.

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