In need of a win, Vandy clipped by LSU in OT

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.

With a 1-4 record in the SEC, Vandy men’s basketball desperately needed to protect their home floor against tournament-hopeful LSU. The Tigers, however, were able to successfully escape Nashville with a 79-75 win in a game that the ‘Dores led most of the way.

–       As I alluded to above, VU held a slim lead for much of this game behind strong performances from Luke Kornet (career high 22 points) and Wade Baldwin (career high 18 points on 4-4 from three). Josh Henderson got the surprise start against a massive LSU front line and Henderson and Kornet played good defense for the most part despite Jordan Mickey’s 25 points. The Commodores probably should have put this game away in regulation but Matthew Fisher-Davis and Riley LaChance uncharacteristically struggled from three, which made it harder for Vandy to pull away in the second half. Vanderbilt’s largest issue was giving up 18 offensive rebounds to LSU (offensive rebound % of .429), and the team certainly regressed in this area compared to how they faired at Kentucky.

–       After the UK game I briefly mentioned that Kevin Stallings might consider starting Matthew Fisher-Davis in place of Jeff Roberson, and that is exactly what Stallings opted to do. The problem is that starting the rail-thin, 6’5” Fisher-Davis against LSU’s Jarrell Martin, a 6’10” small forward, creates a dangerously bad matchup. The much taller and bulkier Martin quickly drew two fouls on Fisher-Davis to start the game, and MFD didn’t end up having an impact on the game. This could have been a simple coincidence, but there is no question that Fisher-Davis had no opportunity to get in a rhythm early on after having to sit down with two fouls.

–       Considering how off LaChance was on offense, I thought this was a pretty good performance by Vanderbilt. LSU is a surefire top-50 team and the Commodores stayed right with them the whole game. With all these close losses, one has to think that VU has been a victim of some bad luck this season and that at some point the team’s performance in tight games will flip. It’s significant, however, that VU has opted to put the ball in the hands of Wade Baldwin and Shelton Mitchell in nearly every late-game scenario. At this point the team, as well as the coaching staff, needs to do a better job of making sure that Damian Jones and Riley LaChance end up with the ball at the end of the game.

–       I maintain that this team will get things going in the second half of conference play, although now it’ll be a battle just to make the NIT. The Commodores’ next two games (at Georgia and at Texas A&M) are two of the three toughest games left on the schedule, so the 1-5 conference record might well get even worse over the next week. As we can tell from Kevin Stallings’ passion during the LSU game, however, this is a close team that will continue to fight through the losses. The team is due for an excellent all-around performance such as the incredible display against Purdue, so we’ll see when exactly that performance comes.

–       If nothing else, at least we’ll always have this beautiful Kevin Stallings gif as a result of this game.

Stallingsloop

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