Preview: Vanderbilt: Southern Miss

Eric AdamsContributor IJanuary 2, 2010

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 12:  Members of the Vanderbilt Commodores band play during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 12, 2009 at The St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I wanted to share a few things before talking about the Southern Miss game tomorrow. I wrote an article for about how important the Mercer and Manhattan games were. Without getting too deep, I think the games were bright spots for the team in four areas:

  • The team’s demeanor after the transfer of Charles Hinkle
  • Continuing to build momentum heading into SEC play
  • The growing interchangeability of the trio of guards
  • A.J. Ogilvy's attitude coming off the bench

The next two games for Vanderbilt are absolutely crucial. Another non-conference loss would hamper the team's chances at getting into NCAA play. If the team can take care of business against Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee, they would head into SEC play with an 11-3 record. The Western Kentucky loss still stings, but it's nothing the 'Dores can't overcome.

Things could be worse. I would hate to be Bruce Pearl right now. He just lost 32.4 points/game with the suspensions of four players facing drug and weapons charges. Here is a link to the story from WATE 6 in Knoxville. Pearl will lose Tyler Smith, Brian Williams, Melvin Goins and Cameron Tatum until the legal matters are sorted out.

Now to Vandy and Southern Miss.

The Commodores are a 13-point favorite and should be able to take care of business. From a fan's perspective, it feels a bit like the Western Kentucky game.

Like WKU, Southern Miss is a very capable team that has a couple really bad losses on its record. It's hard to tell which version of the squad will show up tomorrow afternoon. Is it the team that should have beaten No. 16 Mississippi or the one that lost to lowly North Florida?

Southern Miss has five players that average at least nine points a game. The quartet of Gary Flowers, Maurice Bolden, Angelo Johnson, and R.L. Horton average nearly 30 minutes of playing time a piece. Get used to seeing them on the floor a lot.

I've never seen the Golden Eagles play, but from the stat sheet, it doesn't seem like it would be any fun to play with Sophomore guard Maurice Bolden. Usually people describe a guard's assist-turnover ration. With Bolden you have to talk about his turnover-assist ration. It's a staggering 3.8-1. Yep, on the season, he has 38 turnovers and only 10 assists. Let's just say that the Commodore press will be in full swing.

Regardless of the turnover problem, Bolden and the Golden Eagles have the talent to come into Memorial and pull off the upset. Hopefully the Commodores will continue their recent hot streak.