It was a gloomy Saturday, not only outside Memorial Gymnasium, but inside as well with Texas A&M dropping Vanderbilt 69-50.
News broke following Wednesday’s loss at Auburn that Aaron Nesmith will be sidelined indefinitely due to a stress fracture in his foot, and for what Jerry Stackhouse believes to have “probably” ended his season.
This was yet another gut punch for the Vanderbilt basketball program, which had become a team that was beginning to believe that this season would look starkly different from last, especially after taking the fifth ranked Auburn Tigers down to the wire their last time out.
BREAKING: Vanderbilt forward Aaron Nesmith out indefinitely with stress fracture
— Vandy Hustler Sports (@vuhustlersports) January 11, 2020
Nesmith not only led the SEC in scoring at 23 points per game, but was fifth in the country in the statistic. The sophomore was also shooting at a 52 percent clip from the three-point line which still leads the NCAA.
I feels like déjà vu coming only one year after Vandy lost Darius Garland to a season ending torn meniscus after just five games into the 2018-2019 campaign. Garland would go on to become the fifth overall selection in the NBA Draft with the Cleveland Cavaliers snatching up his talents.
For the Vanderbilt basketball team as it is currently constructed there are few sure things.
One thing that is certain is that this is now Saben Lee’s team. Lee is half of the SEC’s leading scoring tandem alongside Nesmith is averaging 16.6 points per game. The junior will be forced to find a new gear if Vandy plans on snapping their winless streak in the SEC which dates all the way back to March of 2018.
With Nesmith out, Lee will now attract the opposition’s best defender, leaving opportunities for those around him to step up and become focal points of Vanderbilt’s plan offensively.
“He has to become more of a primary scorer, said Stackhouse on Lee. “I think him, more than anybody, was affected more by the events in the last two days.”
While the Aggies bottled up Lee limiting him to just four points on the day, there was a trio of Commodores that finished in double figures. Maxwell Evans and Ejike Obinna led the way for Vandy with 12 points a piece. It was the most active Obinna had been on both ends of the floor this season while he also hauled in seven rebounds.
Freshman Scottie Pippen Jr. chipped in 10 points despite turning the ball over four times.
Sloppy play was a common theme all day for the ‘Dores. At halftime Vanderbilt faced a 36-20 deficit following the lowest scoring half of the season for Stackhouse’s bunch.
Vandy would go on to finish the game shooting just 30 percent from the floor including an anemic performance from beyond the arc, converting on just five of their thirty tries from three.
“It really was just a lack of focus, said Stackhouse on the team’s performance. “I think guys wanted to do some things but it was almost liked they were paralyzed by the situation.”
With Nesmith joining Clevon Brown on the injury report, the ‘Dores are down two starters on a team that lacked depth even with both of them healthy.
This Vandy squad, with an abundance of youth, will be forced to grow up quickly if they want to get the proverbial monkey off of the program’s back and steal a win in conference this season.