The Commodores home winning streak came to an end on Saturday as they were unable to run down Texas A&M late in an 89-81 loss. While it was an annoying defeat given the ‘Dores stretch of home results, it was yet more proof that this team plays better – and scores way more points – on its own floor. Hopefully, that will continue with a better result against Missouri.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Continue to not give up
It is amazing in many respects that this Commodore team is still willing to fight for victories this late in the season. The Commodores have been vastly underpowered inside all season long, they have seen one of their three senior leaders go down with a season-ending injury, and they have had to hear all year about how the team in 2018-19 will be so much better.
Yet they just won’t throw in the towel, either on the season or in any individual game.
Against the Aggies, the Commodores were down 72-48 with just seven minutes to play. That 24 point deficit could easily have turned into 30 or more, but in their own building, Vandy decided that it wasn’t going to be blown out. A furious rally ended just short as the clock ran out, but somehow the lead was at one point down to just four points with just over half a minute remaining.
If that attitude is taken into this game against Missouri then a win is likely.
Get another big game from Saben Lee
It would be fair to call Saben Lee’s freshman season with the ‘Dores streaky. He has had monster games where he looks like a player that will lead the Vandy team with all the new support next season, and then he has had games where he is a non-factor. Against the Aggies, it was the good version of Lee that hit the court.
Lee scored 19 points, had nine, rebounds, and nine assists as he fell just a board and dime short of a triple-double. It is important for Lee – perhaps more than any other player on the roster – to finish the season strongly and move into next season full of confidence. If he can go back-to-back and have another monster game against Missouri then he will show a level of consistency to really get Commodore fans excited.
Prepare to face a top three draft pick
Missouri is in a weird place with just a week to go in the SEC regular season. The Tigers sit firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble after a run of losses that have happened at the worst time. Losses on the road at LSU, at home to Ole Miss, then on the road at Kentucky (by 21) over the last week and a bit have severely dented the Tigers chances of an at-large bid and they need to close the season in a strong manner.
Luckily for the Tigers, help is on its way.
Michael Porter Jr. is projected by some sources to be the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, despite the fact he has played in exactly one game for the Tigers because of a back injury. That injury though is said to have cleared up, and with Porter being a guarantee for the draft this year there is no point in Mizzou keeping him out of the lineup to chase a medical redshirt. Instead, Vandy could be facing one of the hottest prospects in the country with little to no tape on what he can actually do.