It's amazing how much difference an SEC atmosphere brings to Memorial. After sitting through games against Mercer, MTSU, and Southern Miss, you tend to forget how exciting that place can get. The crowd was in top form in Vanderbilt's 95-87 victory against the Florida Gators. (Click here to follow my SEC Updates on Twitter.)
In my mini preview yesterday, I was fearful of a quick start for the Gators. Those fears were answered when Florida jumped out to a fast 9-2 lead. I was terrified. I started having terrible flashbacks of the Illinois disaster.
I guess I didn't have enough faith in the 'Dores. They played aggressive, inspired basketball. After that performance, it really looks like that have a great chance to finish second in the SEC East.
There were a number of moments from the game that stood out to me. I'll give you a few of them:
- I would like to nominate Florida's Kenny Boynton as one of my least favorite players in college basketball. He shoots too much and likes to jaw at the officials. He deserved a technical on two occasions. Boynton scored 28, but luckily cooled off in the second half. Everything he did seemed forced and selfish. Maybe he's a good guy and leader. Who knows?
- Andre Walker is easily the most underrated Commodore. Eight points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. He also helped break the Florida press on numerous occasions.
- Jermaine Beal + A.J. Ogilvy = 46 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and 18-for-20 from the line. Great leadership.
- Here's the situation: Five minutes remaining in the game. Florida is in the midst of a 6-0 run. Vanderbilt is clinging to a 76-72 lead. Who do you think is taking a shot for the 'Dores? Well after you name six or seven players, you would land on Lance Goulbourne. He launched a three-pointer with 18 seconds left on the shot clock. My reaction: "Really?" Much to my surprise and excitement, he drained it. The Gators never got close again. I have ripped Lance a lot in the past. Today he had seven points, zero turnovers, and the biggest shot of the night.
- Coach Stallings had Jeffery Taylor rotate assignments on the defensive end very effectively. A few times, he matched up against one of Florida's small guards. Taylor's size and quickness gave them trouble.
- Vanderbilt only committed seven turnovers all game. With the pressure Florida was putting on the 'Dores, that's an incredible number.
I wanted to close with a situation that is an interesting one facing Coach Stallings. In the long run I don't think it matters who starts between Brad Tinsley and John Jenkins. The issue is that Tinsley is losing minutes because of his ineffective play.
Anchor of Gold has a great breakdown of the situation:
(Did the Florida game mark a shift from Brad Tinsley to John Jenkins in the starting lineup?)
For Vanderbilt to have a special season, Tinsley has to be able to knock down open looks. That's not happening right now. Florida coach Billy Donovan was asked about how they planned to guard Jenkins. Here was his interesting answer:
“To be honest, Tinsley is more dangerous than Jenkins because he has not shot the ball well," Donovan said. "Jenkins is one of those guys that you expect to make a couple of threes coming into the game but Tinsley is the guy that we had to worry about falling asleep on because he could have gotten hot at any time. Jenkins is a very good freshman, but Tinsley’s three percentage was more dangerous in my opinion.”
I really believe if you have Beal, Ogilvy, Taylor, Jenkins, Walker, and especially Tinsley playing well; Vanderbilt can compete with anybody in the league.
Yes, that includes you Kentucky.