Postgame: Vandy Drops 8th Road Game of the Season

Mississippi St: 75      Vanderbilt: 74

Just days after dominating Auburn on the road, the Vanderbilt Commodores dropped a heartbreaking loss to a struggling Mississippi State team who is in the bottom tier of the SEC. Quinndary Weatherspoon nailed a three at the buzzer of another disappointing game. Heartbreaking right?

Let’s take a close look at the last play. Malik Newman gets the pass at the top of the key and immediately shoots a three with a hand in his face. That was a phenomenal defensive play for the Commodores as Newman was 0-4 from three before shooting it and did not have a good look. But it wasn’t over as the ball shot off the rim, straight through the hands of Jeff Roberson and into the hands of Gavin Ware. At this moment the Commodores should have immediately gotten back to their man so that the Bulldogs could not get off an easy shot. Instead of doing that, the Vandy players all looked a bit confused leaving Quinndary Weatherspoon wide open to sink the game winning shot. Why did  Vandy not get back out on defense after the rebound occurred? More Importantly, why wasn’t the rebound secured in the first place? Sure, the players must take some responsibility, but Coach Stallings absolutely must make sure that his players know what to do in every single scenario.

The x factor in this game was Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings. This Vanderbilt team has two first round draft picks and another possible future NBA player in Wade Baldwin IV, Damian Jones, and Luke Kornet, respectively. This Vanderbilt team is young and playing on the road in a conference game is not easy, but Vandy is way too talented to keep losing to sub-par teams. Not to mention the fact that the ‘Dores held an eleven point lead at the half. This shows a lack of motivation that starts with the head guy. The head coach of a college basketball team has to be a leader who can motivate their players well. It’s extremely tough for 19-21 year old kids to get motivated to play against a team that has performed poorly all year. Especially after winning by double digits the last two games.

Mississippi State won this game because they scored more points in the paint, and had more bench points than Vanderbilt. The Commodores have excelled in paint play thus far this year. What happened? Damian Jones, Luke Kornet, and Josh Henderson have protected their own paint and dominated in the opponent’s all year long but last night were outscored 42-26. Points in the paint come from getting quality shots underneath the basket and the Bulldogs defense kept Vandy’s three big men at bay. Damian Jones had a phenomenal game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block and an assist, but Kornet and Henderson could not keep it going.

The Bulldog’s bench outscored the Vandy bench 28-6. One of Vandy’s biggest strengths this season has been their depth with players like Nolan Cressler, Riley Lachance and Josh Henderson. They each scored only 2 points which gave the Commodores bench only 6 points.

Quinndary Weatherspoon was easily the MVP of the game. He scored 24 points with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and only 1 turnover in 34 minutes. He also scored the game winning bucket as time expired. Without Weatherspoon, the Bulldogs probably would not have even been close in this game.

This is a horrible loss for the Commodores from a “bubble watch” perspective. They absolutely have to capitalize on their upcoming games which features two home matchups with Kentucky and Tennessee and two road trips to Gainesville and College Station. They play next on Saturday February 20 in Nashville against the Georgia Bulldogs. They are set to tip off at 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN2.

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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