‘Dores defeated by UGA in all too familiar fashion

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.

It’s no secret that Vanderbilt has struggled through the first seven games of SEC play, and a road trip to Georgia isn’t the easiest game to get things turned around. In a competitive contest strikingly similar to both the Kentucky game as well as the first UGA game, Vandy fell 70-62 to the Dawgs in Athens Tuesday night.

–       First off, I’d like to give a shout out to KenPom.com for correctly predicting both the outcome and score of this game. I put very little stock in any database’s game predictions, but I thought this was a funny coincidence.

–       Now for the actual game. Vandy stayed with UGA early as the two teams combined to start 9-12 from three. The Commodores’ three point shooting gave them a boost in this game, but the team actually shot a worse percentage from two than from three. The presence of Yante Maten for the Bulldogs may have helped (Maten missed the first matchup after being hit by a car), but I would credit UGA’s tough interior defense to Marcus Thornton’s ability to handle Damian Jones with minimal help. Not many players in the SEC can contain Damian one on one, but Thornton did a pretty good job using his size to force the Vandy big man to catch the ball farther out than he wanted to. Vanderbilt put together a comeback after Matthew Fisher-Davis hit two threes in 13 seconds to cut the lead to eight with seven minutes left in the contest, but the Bulldogs steadied the ship and made their free throws to close out the game.

–       I liked Vandy’s activity level in this game. The ‘Dores forced UGA into 16 turnovers, eight of which were VU steals, and generally flew around more on defense than usual. The ‘Dores have been one of the worst teams in the country at generating steals this season, and one would think that forcing more live ball turnovers would help the offense become even more potent. Josh Henderson and Wade Baldwin got frustrated with a couple of Bulldogs players throughtout the game and things even looked like they might get a bit chippy. Vanderbilt has been pushed around for much of conference play and it’s a positive sign that they started to push back. Texas A&M is one of the most physical teams in the conference, so the increased physicality could be a good omen with regards to Saturday’s game against the Aggies.

–       Riley LaChance had another cold shooting night and appears to be in somewhat of a slump. Based on what we’ve seen from Slim Shady this season, it stands to reason that his shot will start falling again sooner rather than later.

–       Jeff Roberson set a pair of career highs with 11 points and four assists in a return to the starting lineup, and VU’s best defender looked good in doing so. Roberson put together a couple of crafty drives from the left corner in the first half that resulted in two baskets, showing a part of his game that no one had seen this year. Roberson is different from many of the other young players on the roster in that he needs to develop his skill level much more than his physique. With a horrendous offensive rating of 89.2 coming into this game, any offensive production Roberson provides is a bonus.

–       As mentioned above, Texas A&M is Vandy’s next opponent in a second straight road game. VU swept A&M last season and the Aggies’ shooting seems to alternate between below average and absolutely horrendous. A&M is due for a loss, while Vanderbilt is due for a win. This should be another close game, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Commodores will get back on track in College Station on Saturday.

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