November 23, 2012
VU blown out by Marist, 50-33
ORLANDO, FL -- Vanderbilt's 16 point point loss to Davidson last night looks like a barn burner compared to the display put up today versus Marist in the second round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. The Commodores didn't score a point in the first seven minutes of the first half, or in the first six minutes of the second half. In all, Vanderbilt (1-3) was completely inept in every phase of their offense, and got blown out by Marist (2-3), 50-33.
And it wasn't even that close.
This was the same Marist team that was demolished by West Virginia by 43 points the previous night. A program that finished eighth in the MAAC last year and was picked to finish eighth again this season.
A program with a 242 RPI drubbed a Vanderbilt team that a few months ago sent three players to the NBA. It was, among other superlatives, the first time a MAAC school has ever beaten Vanderbilt.
But with all due respect to the Red Foxes, this wasn't a game that had much if anything to do with Marist. It everything to do with Vanderbilt.
The numbers don't lie: Vandy shot 20 percent from the field in the first half, making just six shots in total. Freshman Sheldon Jeter scored VU's first basket at the 13 minute mark. Josh Henderson sank a pretty turn-around jumper two minutes later, and hit a second jumper at eight minutes. VU wouldn't score again until Kedren Johnson scored his first points of the game on a layup with three minutes left before the half.
A buzzer beating 3 by Kevin Bright closed out the worst offensive display in a half by any Vandy team in recent memory.
Marist's 27-14 lead seemed utterly insurmountable, and even moreso when VU failed to score for the first six minutes of the second half.
For the game, VU made just 14 of 61 shots from the field, for 23 percent, and just two of 20 3-pointers. The Commodores registered 13 turnovers, and a paltry four assists. None of those four assists came in the second half.
Johnson had scored 28 points against Davidson last night, but scored just four points on 2-for-11 shooting.
Marist, for their part, was only marginally better from the field. The Red Foxes were just 37 percent from the field, but hit nine 3-pointers. They came into the game averaging 57 points per game, and finished with just 50. But that was far more than they needed to bury a Commodore team that couldn't hit wide open 3s or sink point blank jumpers. Marist came into the game allowing 70 points per game. They left having held VU to a total of 14 made shots.
"We defended well enough to win the game," said VU head coach Kevin Stallings, "but we just couldn't get the ball in the hole."
"I thought early in the game we got really good looks. We got wide open looks from three but I never like to blame it on shooting or lack thereof. I think that feels like a cop out [when coaches say that]. I just think our guys were so uptight and lack such confidence right now that it's causing us to miss shots that I expect to make and we make in practice.
"We dug ourselves a hole and that gave them some confidence."
Devin Price and Isaiah Morton both sank three 3s, and both finished with a game-high of 13 points.
The Commodores' box score reads like a nightmare. Reserve forward/center James Siakam led VU in scoring with eight points. Rod Odom had five on 2-for-10 shooting, all scored late in the game when the Red Foxes were up by more than 20. Johnson, Josh Henderson and Kyle Fuller each had four. And those were the statistical high points.
The only bright spot was the play of Siakam, who again displayed some quick baseline moves that led to easy buckets. Siakam was the only Vandy player to hit better than half his shots, making three of five. Two of those were dunks.
"I think we kind of got tense after we saw some of our guys miss easy shots," said James Siakam.
Vanderbilt's offense has gone from the top of the SEC to somewhere near the bottom of the NCAA. The Commodores, helped by three now-NBA players, led the SEC in scoring and 3-point shooting last year. Those days seem long gone today.
VU's 30 points is the lowest point total VU has scored since their 31-30 win over Mississippi State on January 30, 1982. In that game, the Bulldogs slowed the game down to a crawl. Today, that was not the case.
"It doesn't feel very good right now," continued Stallings. "It's not like they're not out there trying and in most cases want to put it in the goal too badly. Our inability to get easy baskets is our problem.
"Again I hate to say we just didn't make any shots. I guess when I hear coaches say that I think coaches are placing it on the players. We held them to 36 percent and 50 points. Our effort level was there, our ability to get the ball in the goal was not.
The Commodores get a day off before having to play the loser of the UTEP-Clemson game that will tip off tonight. They'll need the day of rest, as dual point guards Johnson and Fuller played nearly every minute of this and last night's game versus Davidson. Stallings revealed that freshman A.J. Astroth pulled a hamstring at their first shoot-around two days ago, and was therefore unavailable to play so far in the tournament. Sophomore Dai-Jon Parker remains suspended indefinitely.
"With Kedren and Kyle, they have to play so many minutes, even A.J. Astroth who could be a sub at the guard spot...he strained his hamstring the day before our first practice here. We just don't have anybody to put in for them. It's hard to make shots when you don't have legs to make them.
"I don't know of a way to get them more rest, if I did I would rest them. If I had a whole bunch of answers right now we'd be making a lot more shots and playing with a lot more confidence."
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