The ‘Dores fell badly on the road at Mississippi State last time out, losing by 18 in Starkville. It was a lopsided loss in a season of games decided by single digits and the Commodores need to rally back quickly, beginning with the weekend’s matchup in Nashville against LSU.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Concentrate on the now
There is no denying that Vanderbilt basketball is in a weird place right now. The Commodores look to have a massive immediate future with the top 10 (maybe even top 5) recruiting class that head coach Bryce Drew is putting together. This brings with it plenty of hype, hype that is probably required seeing as the Commodores sit bottom of the SEC with a 6-12 (1-5) record to date.
The problem with looking to the future is that it is easy to forget the now. The Commodores have a trio of seniors that are 1,000 point career scorers in Jeff Roberson, Riley LaChance, and Jeff Roberson, but with no post presence their play this year is being wasted. Vanderbilt can still put a run together to finish with a winning season, but it feels like that turning point has to happen over the next couple of games to make this idea a reality.
Out rebound LSU
The Tigers are a much-improved team from a year ago. First-year head coach Will Wade has LSU trending in the right direction, to the point that they are being mentioned as fringe NCAA Tournament team as bracketology begins in its infancy this season.
They are far from a complete team, however, and they are prone to making big mistakes at key times. One area where Vanderbilt could get the better of the Tigers is on the boards. LSU is tied for 245th in the nation as the team averages 34.5 rebounds per game. Vanderbilt – not exactly a team known for crashing the glass this season – is ranked 218th in country with 35.3 boards per game. This is a winnable game for Vandy if they play with the right intensity and don’t give LSU second-chance opportunities.
Saben Lee outplays Tremont Waters
In the battle of freshman guards, Saben Lee has to outperform Tremont Waters. This will be far from easy as the New Haven, Connecticut, product has been the Tigers best player so far this season.
Waters took to the college game faster than anyone could have expected. He averaged 6.0 assists and 16.3 points per game, while holding an assist to turnover ratio of 2:1. He scored 21 points on the road against No. 11 Texas A&M in a 69-68 LSU win, including hitting an improbable winning shot as time expired. He is also prone to duds, however, and he was held to just six points at home last time out against Georgia.
Lee doesn’t need to be the man on a Commodore team with three senior scorers. He is, though, the ‘Dores third-leading scorer with 10.9 points per game, and he is getting better as the season progresses. If he can out-duel Waters then Vanderbilt should win.