Not pretty, but gritty.
That seems to be the mode of operation for Vanderbilt basketball lately. After a valiant effort that came up just short on the road to Kentucky on Wednesday, Vandy gave a Florida team, that is now 5-3 in conference play, a run for their money Saturday night.
After trailing by 17 points in the second half, the Florida lead proved to be insurmountable for the Commodores. Vandy battled back, but it was not enough as the ‘Dores would go on to lose the game by the score of 61-55.
Vanderbilt was careless with the basketball throughout the game. The lack of attention to detail, along with an overall sense of recklessness, contributed to 17 giveaways which matched the total number of field goals made in the contest, with Vandy connecting on 17-of-45 (38%).
That is not a recipe for success and head coach Jerry Stackhouse knows it. “(We) just didn’t take care of the ball,” Stackhouse said following the loss. “We still (were) trying to make plays for ourselves instead of sharing it the way that we needed to.”
The ‘Dores couldn’t contain the sharpshooting of Florida’s Keyontae Johnson and Noah Locke.
Johnson paced the Gators with 20 points and seven on 7-of-11 from the floor that included 2-3 from three-point range. Locke connected on 5-of-8 from beyond the arc to go for 17 points. Eleven of Locke’s points came in the final 11:23 of the contest.
Vanderbilt was led by freshman point guard, Scottie Pippen Jr., who finished with 15 points to go along with five rebounds, but also contributed four turnovers.
Pippen – count it pic.twitter.com/oa1mOiFJ4u
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) February 2, 2020
Saben Lee followed up with 11 points of his own, but turned the ball over six times. Maxwell Evans chipped in with nine points while Jordan Wright dropped seven.
Ten turnovers from your two primary ball handlers is certainly not going to help a Vanderbilt team that is already decimated due to injuries and depleted in the talent department. It will take a near perfect game for Vandy to beat anybody in the SEC so the Commodores can ill afford nights like this where the team is loose with the basketball.
Ejike Obinna set a career high with 12 rebounds although he was only able to muster two points on the night. He was consistently banging down low with one of the best big men in the SEC, Kerry Blackshear Jr. Blackshear ranks third in the conference averaging eight boards per game.
“(Obinna) was good for us on the defensive end, you know, rebounding the ball. Still has to become better at catching and finishing for us,” said Stackhouse who still sees room for growth in the sophomore out of Nigeria. “(If) he gets his hands on the ball around the basket we need for him to score.”
Next time out
The most grueling part of Vanderbilt’s schedule continues on Wednesday night where No. 22, LSU comes to town. The Tigers are the lone undefeated team in the SEC at 8-0 and are riding a current ten game winning streak.