Sometimes it's easy to convince yourself that your favorite team played a lot better than they did.
As I was leaving Memorial Gym, I kept thinking how much fun Vanderbilt's 84-71 victory over Tennessee State was. On the night, the Commodores dominated physically and were clearly the better team. Coach Stallings said in his post-game show that the 'Dores had a distinct skill/talent advantage over TSU. This was evident in the points in the paint. They scored 58 points down low. There was an exciting mix of dunks and layups; everything seemed to be above the rim. I realized the team shot well, but Vanderbilt shot a mind-boggling 79% in the second half.
Wasn't this the type of performance fans were looking for?
Stallings seemed dejected in his radio show on 104.5 the Zone. He could not get over the team's 21 turnovers and casual effort in the second half. He hated the fact that his players tried to make highlight reels, rather than just finish plays.
The final score is a little deceiving. Vandy was about 25-30 points better than TSU, but let the Tigers close it to 13 at the end.
The problem was that Vandy exploited distinct size/skill weaknesses that won't exist in SEC play. Fans can't get excited about scoring points at ease against a undermanned team. The effort that Vanderbilt showed in the first half was incredible and should be commended.
Just realize that this game doesn't do anything to alleviate the concerns after the Illinois and Western Kentucky game.
A few random thoughts from the game:
- Jeffery Taylor scored 20 points on 10-11 shooting. That's efficiency. He looked like he was going up against high school players. He was a step or two quicker than seemingly everybody on TSU. Taylor was a little sloppy with five turnovers, but he played very well.
- Brad Tinsley committed six turnovers himself, and got embarrassed by Stallings on the sidelines. After making two poor decisions in a row, Stallings yelled at Jermaine Beal to get in the game. Coach then proceeded to scream at Tinsley...loudly. I'm not close to the court and could hear the whole thing. Bad times for Brad.
- A.J. Ogilvy, who was hampered by injury, scored 11 points in only 15 minutes of play. A nice performance coming off the bench.
- Poor Lance Goulbourne. Stallings pointed out that some of his bench players are committing too many turnovers. That a few needed to wake up. Lance has to be one of the people he is referring to. At this point, I kind of cringe when he comes on the floor.
Stallings said that if there wasn't NCAA rules preventing it, he would have his team on the floor practicing tonight. Vanderbilt has a quick turn around, with a game Monday night against Mercer.