Vanderbilt-Western Kentucky: Commodores Face Challenge Against Solid Hilltoppers

Eric AdamsContributor IDecember 11, 2009

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 20:  Shan Foster #32 and Jermaine Beal #0 of the Vanderbilt Commodores celebrate in the final minutes of their 72-67 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats on January 20, 2007 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tomorrow night's game against Western Kentucky will provide the last real challenge that Vanderbilt will face before the beginning of the SEC schedule.

Let's take a quick peek at their next six games before hosting Florida: WKU, Tennessee State, Mercer, Manhattan, Southern Miss, and Middle Tennessee State. Besides the dangerous Hilltoppers, none of the other teams should pose a real threat.

(I'm not convinced that Southern Miss is that good. A close loss to Ole Miss and five easy wins don't impress me.)

There are three big concerns I have regarding this team:

The distribution of minutes for our three guards

I made reference to this earlier, but there was a great conversation about this over at Vanderbilt Sports Line. At some point, more room needs to be made for freshman John Jenkins. Jermaine Beal is averaging 31 minutes a game, followed by Brad Tinsley at 27.8 and Jenkins with only 19.1.

I would like to see a few more creative lineups from coach Kevin Stallings. If A.J. Ogilvy needs a break, why not try to go small with Beal, Tinsley, Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor, and Andre Walker?

Regardless, Jenkins needs to be playing around 25 minutes before the start of SEC play.

Getting off to a fast start

On the season, Vanderbilt is being outscored 285-277 in the first half. That includes getting off to horrible starts in the two Commodore losses (Cincinnati and Illinois). How refreshing would it be to see Vandy sneak out to an 8-0 lead tomorrow night?

Feed the ball to Ogilvy consistently

One thing I'm going to watch more closely is whose fault it is that A.J. isn't getting enough looks. Are the perimeter players not feeding the post, or is Ogilvy not working hard enough to get the ball? The 'Dores can't have our big man disappear in games. He might as well have not been on the court against Illinois.

It'll be fun to get a firsthand look at the Vols tomorrow night. They have the opener against Middle Tennessee State in the Sun Belt Classic. Vanderbilt and WKU will tip off around 8:30 Central. If I have to walk to my car at 11:00 in the freezing cold after a sloppy loss, I will not be happy.

Vanderbilt is an 11.5-point favorite. With the crowd the Hilltoppers will bring, I doubt the game will get out of hand. The 'Tops played Tennessee very well last year in Nashville. This should be a win for the Commodores, as long as they play with urgency.

Here are a couple links to more specific previews of WKU:

Official VU site
Hilltopper Haven
Vanderbilt Sports Line


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