Turnovers loom large for Vanderbilt in loss to NC State
Vanderbilt dropped its first game of the Vegas Showdown and fell to 3-2 on the season in a 84-78 loss to NC State.
The Commodores will look to leave Vegas with a win as it faces off against the loser of BYU's matchup with Arizona State tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. central.
Vanderbilt got some phenomenal news pregame as a spokesperson announced that Tyrin Lawrence, Ven-Allen Lubin and Lee Dort would all return to the lineup after all missing the first four games of the season.
The Commodores were without point guard Ezra Manjon due to an ankle injury he suffered in last Friday's matchup with Central Arkansas.
NC State jumped on the Commodores early with a trap-style defense that made the Commodores uncomfortable offensively and forced it into eight first-half turnovers while it had just four assists.
Those turnovers paired Vanderbilt shooting 18.2% from 3-point range and 7-for-12 from the free throw line while NC State shot it 55.6% from 3-point range while assisting itself 10 times allowed for it to end the half with a 43-33 lead.
The Commodores trailed by as much as 14 in the half.
That lead that was once at 14 dwindled into a two-point deficit by the Commodores after an 8-0 run to start the second half. That run looked to be the Commodores' best stretch of basketball all season.
NC State immediately turned on the gas to inch that lead closer to 20 right after the Commodores got back in control.
The Wolfpack didn't look back from there as it gave Vanderbilt its first loss in Vegas.
Vanderbilt drops first power-five test
In Vanderbilt's first opportunity to pick up a significant win on its rèsumè it hung with NC State but ultimately fell as it struggled to defend Kevin Keatts' athletic team.
The Wolfpack shot it particularly well from 3-point range where it shot42.1% on 19 attempts.
It feels imperative that Jerry Stackhouse's team gets one on Friday night against BYU or Arizona State to avoid going winless in its trip to Las Vegas.
Three quick takes:
Sloppy offense and turnovers were the difference
Ezra Manjon was sorely missed.
Vanderbilt's offense had long stretches of sloppy turnover-ridden play, couldn't generate much penetration outside of what Lawrence did and missed too much from beyond the arc as well as the free throw line.
The Commodores shot just 31.8% from 3-point range, 70% from the free throw line and turned it over 19 times. NC State converted those turnovers in to 16 points and 14 more total shots than Vanderbilt.
Too much dribbling, too much 1-on-1, not enough penetration. Hard to win like that and when you turn it over eight more times than you assist each other.
Stackhouse's team has turned it over 70 times this season as opposed to its 51 total assists.
This isn't any sort of revelation but Tyrin Lawrence is a real difference maker
It feels like Vanderbilt wouldn't be anywhere near in this game without what Lawrence gave it.
After missing the first four games of the season, the veteran guard showed his eagerness to be back in the lineup with a 21-point performance in which he went 5-for-11 from the field.
It wasn't just the stats that Lawrence provided, either. It was the penetration he got in a game where it felt as if the rest of Vanderbilt's roster couldn't get into the lane with any semblance of consistency.
Without Lawrence, who didn't seem to be 100% at times, Vanderbilt isn't in this game.
Perhaps the most significant storyline of Thursday night: Vanderbilt has its go-to scorer back. It also got some real contributions from Lubin, who had 16 points and eight rebounds.
The two-big lineup didn't have good early returns
Vanderbilt cut the lead to two at one point. That NC State lead quickly ballooned as Colin Smith left briefly due to injury and Vanderbilt went to a two-big lineup.
From that point, NC State quickly went on a 17-2 run to extend its lead to 17.
The returns on that two-big lineup were far from encouraging as Vanderbilt struggled to stretch the floor and failed to get back to guard in transition.
A microcosm of that; Evan Taylor forced DJ Burns into a switch situation but got swallowed up by helpside defenders. That was after two possessions in a row where NC State earned good looks in transition.
It is worth noting that Lawrence was sitting next to the trainer for much of that run.
That 17-2 stretch also included Vanderbilt taking out both Lubin and Dort mid run and Stackhouse turning to a man defense rather than the zone he was running prior to the run.
Vanderbilt has some real things to watch on tape from that Wolfpack run and this one in general. The Commodores were in striking distance without Manjon but ultimately fell short in its late-night outing.
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