Vanderbilt needed a big performance against Houston Baptist on Wednesday night in the worst way. It might have been a layup of a game against a squad that has little relevance at this point in the grand scheme of all things Division I basketball, but the 81-48 victory is huge for this team’s confidence. Up next is another very winnable game against Alcorn State.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Continue to hit three-point shots
Living and dying by the three-point shot is hell on coaches and fans. That though is going to be the makeup of the Commodores as the calendar turns to 2018, at least until any kind of inside threat emerges.
Against HBU the Commodores had their best three-point shooting night of the year. It is no surprise then that this coincided with their biggest win of the season. The 4-7 Commodores hit a season-high 12 three-point baskets and the odds are good that if they hit another dozen threes against Alcorn State they will move to 5-7 on the year.
Seeing Matthew Fisher-Davis and Riley LaChance get their shooting stroke back is all Bryce Drew could have asked for this Christmas.
Jump on Alcorn State early
The Commodores may have blown out the Huskies, but it took a 17-3 run after a sluggish start to put the game away. It was never a contest that felt close – even in Vandy’s currently underwhelming form – and that was how it played out in the end.
Alcorn State is another team that Vandy should blow out. Both teams have just four wins on the season, but Vanderbilt has played the 14th toughest schedule in the country. HBU had an RPI of 274, while Alcorn State ranks at No. 258 on that scale. Even more damning is that the Braves have yet to beat a single Division I opponent this season. Their four wins have come over Concordia College, Rust, Fisk, and Blue Mountain. In their opening contest against LSU, the Braves were crushed by 40.
If Vanderbilt can (finally) get off to a good start, then Alcorn State does not have the firepower to stay with their hosts.
Don’t let A.J. Mosby play his game
The Braves may not be lighting up the world of college basketball this winter, but they do have one player that is more than capable of causing the Commodores problems.
Senior guard A.J. Mosby ranks 16th in the entire country in assist-turnover ratio, running the point at a 3.6 clip in that category. If Vandy lets Mosby play his game – directing traffic and hitting key passes from the top of the key – then they could find themselves in a bit of trouble.
The key to stopping the Braves is to pressure Mosby into mistakes. Obviously, that takes some work as the senior rarely throws the ball away, but by slowing down his assists and (ideally) forcing turnovers, Vanderbilt will be in a good position to win.