It is probably just about time to start writing off road games before they even happen. Vanderbilt lost another trip out of town on Tuesday, going down 88-78 at LSU. The good news is that Vandy has a pair of home tilts next up, with the first of those being against Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Find a way to slow a go-to guy
Before the LSU game we were worried that Vanderbilt would have problems with freshman guard Tremont Waters. As it played out, that was a pretty solid prediction.
Waters tore Vanderbilt apart on Tuesday night, scoring 28 points and dishing out nine assists as he almost singlehandedly kept the Commodores at arm’s length. Vanderbilt did plenty on the offensive end against LSU – a trait that has been good as of late – but defensively they had no answer for a go-to playmaker that was on fire.
Texas A&M is up next and it is vital that the Commodores take away whichever Aggie gets hot early in the piece. If not, it will be a long afternoon in Nashville.
Lean on Jeff Roberson
Jeff Roberson is the current SEC Player of the Week for good reason. In the ‘Dores win against Florida, Roberson was the reason that Vanderbilt wasn’t blown out in the first nine minutes of the second half. While no other Commodores was able to score, Roberson poured in 13 points, allowing the Gators to stretch their lead to just eight points. It was a lead Vandy was able to run down, but they wouldn’t have been in a position to without Roberson.
Roberson – along with Riley LaChance – was also the reason Vandy was still within touching distance of LSU. Roberson scored 20 points and picked up six rebounds (LaChance had 26 points) and he was again sinking clutch shots when they were needed. It seems like the supporting cast generally only shows up for home games this season, with Roberson having to be the main threat wherever Vandy plays. His production will be massive against Texas A&M.
Pressure Texas A&M for the duration
The Aggies are having a tough time of it at the moment.
Texas A&M is 17-11 on the season and 6-9 in the SEC. They were looking a solid bet for a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament as little as a week and a half ago, but since that point, they have lost three games in a row, a pair of them to teams they should easily have beaten. Their loss last time out against Mississippi State was only their third home loss of the season. This is a team in flux at the time of year that you can least afford to be that.
That is why Vanderbilt needs to go after Texas A&M early. If Vandy can get a lead here then it will be interesting to see how the Aggies react. If Texas A&M does get on top, then Vanderbilt needs to continue to score and force mistakes, looking for that fear and nervousness to come back into the Aggies’ game.