‘Dores can’t overcome second half collapse, fall at Florida

The Black & Gold Standard is an all-new VandyRadio Blog featuring general commentary and advanced statistical breakdowns following every Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball game. Robbie Weinstein of The Homefield Advantage (along with, on occasion, Max Herz and Dan Helinek) will be bringing you the best analysis of Commodore basketball throughout the season as the team chases a postseason berth for the first time since 2012. Check out the Black & Gold Standard for all kinds of new content as the young ‘Dores fight through the 2014-15 schedule.

Having won three out their last four games, Vanderbilt men’s basketball travelled to Florida to face the Gators hoping to win a second straight road game. The Commodores couldn’t overcome a second half collapse, however, losing 50-47 on a Devin Robinson dunk with two seconds left.

–       This was an extremely low quality basketball game between two teams that have struggled this season. Michael Frazier II and Dorian Finney-Smith, by far Florida’s best two players, both missed the game for various reasons, while Shelton Mitchell and Jeff Roberson both sat for Vanderbilt due to concussion symptoms. For the second straight game, the ‘Dores clearly looked like the better team for long stretches, but foul trouble for Damian Jones played a part in shutting down the VU offense. Vandy had enough trouble getting the ball inside even when Jones was in, and with the big man on the bench for much of the game, the Commodores didn’t even try to get much of anything near the rim on offense.

–       Jones fouled out with six minutes remaining on a classic frustrating, home-cooking, college call. UF’s Devin Robinson barreled to the basket hoping to draw some type of contact and Damian happened to be in the way. The NBA does a much better job with how their officials call contact at the basket, and while Robinson by no means should have been called for a charge, any time the offensive player initiates all the contact there generally shouldn’t be a foul on the defense. I would have liked to see a no-call, and in the NBA I think that would have been the case.

–       Riley LaChance tried to put the team on his back, but struggled again to get anything going. Florida’s big men, in particular Chris Walker, made it tough for Vandy’s perimeter to get clean looks around the basket and the ‘Dores ultimately stopped trying to get in the lane altogether. Matthew Fisher-Davis’s turnover off an inaccurate pass to Luke Kornet in transition was a perfect example of this. Instead of continuing aggressively toward the basket and trying to draw a foul, Fisher-Davis tried a weak pass to the corner for a three point shooter who had not shot well on the night. The team’s lack of strength was even more glaring than usual with the sturdy Roberson out of the lineup.

–       Vanderbilt’s 8:27 without a made shot late in the second half ultimately did them in, and a five-point possession for Florida marked the beginning of a big collapse. It was nice to see the Commodores get back in the game without their star center after being down seven, but this was a win they needed against a Gators team that is probably the worst in the SEC without Frazier and Finney-Smith. Regardless, Vandy’s offense gets a nice opportunity to get back on track Saturday against a Missouri squad that rates last in the SEC in defensive efficiency and fouls like crazy (324th in the country in defensive free throw rate per Ken Pomeroy). This certainly represents a nice transition from a road game against a Florida defense that rates as above average in efficiency in every statistical category and ranks as the tenth-best nationally.

–       Home wins against Missouri, Alabama, and Mississippi State should be enough to prevent the ‘Dores from falling into the league’s bottom four, meaning VU would not have to play on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena. Once again, however, Vanderbilt needs at least one more road win if they want a decent shot at a NIT bid. After blowing a great chance in Gainesville, road games against Tennessee and Ole Miss are the Commodores’ last two chances.

Check out VandyRadio’s comprehensive Vanderbilt sports blog series. Building the Masonic Tradition covers Commodore football, The Black & Gold Standard covers VU hoops, and Eyes of the Hawk covers Vandy baseball. VandyRadio.com is your home for year-round coverage of your favorite Vanderbilt teams.

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