The ‘Dores picked up their fifth straight home win on Saturday afternoon as they rallied back to upset Florida 71-68. A crowd of over 10,000 people at Memorial Gym got to see Vanderbilt do what it does at home this season, now it is up to the Commodores to learn how to take that winning mentality on the road in time for SEC Tournament. Their first chance to do so comes on Tuesday against LSU.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Free throw shooting is key
It is a coaching staple, but good free throw shooting really does win games. Against Florida, Vanderbilt was an almost perfect 22-of-24 from the free throw line. When you consider that the Commodores won the game by just three points it becomes clear just how important those makes from the charity stripe were in deciding the outcome of the game.
Even more than that, it was a pair of game-sealing free throws from Joe Toye that put this one to bed. Toye hit a pair of foul shots with 12.1 seconds remaining to take the game out of reach of the Gators and seal another big win for the Commodores on their home floor. Good free throw shooting is even more important on the road – where the chances from the foul line are generally fewer – so Vandy needs to have a good day shooting the ball against LSU.
Keep Joe Toye scoring
Speaking of Joe Toye, he has become something of a scoring revelation over the last half a dozen games or so. After scoring in double-figures just twice in his previous 21 games, Toye has found a scoring touch that has really contributed to the ‘Dores picking up wins at home. In his last six games, Toye has hit double-figures on four occasions, providing a third scoring option for Vanderbilt when it is needed.
Riley LaChance (21 points) and Jeff Roberson (26) points were still the first two options against Florida, but having Toye as a scoring threat takes some of the defensive pressure away from the Commodores top two scorers. If Toye can go for double-digits again against LSU, then the ‘Dores will be in a much better position to win the game.
Stop Tremont Waters
LSU freshman guard Tremont Waters is the type of player that can singlehandedly win a game. He is averaging 14.7 points per game for the Tigers, but in every LSU win he seems to make one or two head-turning plays that positively affect the outcome of the game for his side. This was the case in the Tigers win last time out against Mizzou, when Waters scored on a drive to the basket with under 20 seconds left in the contest.
It is that driving of the lane that the Commodores will look to shut down when taking on Waters. He is certainly a feast or famine player – his last five games have produced scoring totals of 27, 9, 11, 5, 21 points – but when he is on he is a major threat. Shutting down his penetration will make it much more difficult for LSU to win.