Tennessee Volunteers at Vanderbilt Commodores: the totally serious game preview

The 11-5 Tennessee Volunteers travel west to Nashville tonight to take on the 12-5 Vanderbilt Commodores and their wacky basketball court. The Vols are coming off a bi-polar shouldn't-have-been-that-close 82-79 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks. Vandy is coming off an I-wish-we-would-have-at-least-won 66-73 loss to Mississippi State. The teams look fairly evenly matched, with Tennessee's strength being pitted against Vandy's.

Observations from the stats

Something's got to give. Tennessee's scoring offense ranks 7th and Vandy's scoring defense ranks 14th (they are 1st -- 1st! -- in field goal percentage defense). The Vols likely won't score anywhere close to its average of 83.5, but the Commodores likely won't be able to hold the Vols to 58, either. Best guess is that Tennessee will score somewhere in the low 70s. And so will Vandy. So yeah, it should be a good game.

Vanderbilt players to watch

A.J. Ogilvy. The Aussie is averaging 16.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He ranks 51st in the nation if FG% and 100th in blocked shots.

Jermaine Beal. Beal averages 12.1 points and four boards per game. He shoots 45% from the field, 42% from three-point range, and 87% from the free throw line, where he ranks 23rd in the nation. He also has good ball control skills, ranking 35th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.

Other Stuff

KenPom's prediction: Vanderbilt wins 74-73. According to KenPom, Tennessee has a 47% chance of winning.

Bullets!

  • Revenge! Last year, it was Vanderbilt who ripped the Vols' brand spanking new No. 1 ranking from them, beating them at home on that screwy court 72-69 a mere three days after the Pearlfection game put them on top of the hill.
  • The 'Dores have won nine straight SEC games at Memorial Gym. Did I mention that that place is wacky? The teams' benches are under the baskets, if I remember right, rather than on the sidelines. Sidelines? Oops. Footballian slip. Apologies. Well, shoot. What are those things called in basketball? They're probably still sidelines, right? I digress.
  • Other 'Dores to watch. In addition to the guys mentioned above, Jeffrey Taylor and Brad Tinsley also average double figures in points.
  • Double doody. Sophomore Jamie Graham plays on the football team, too, which usually isn't that big of a deal for Vanderbilt seeing as how their season is usually over before basketball season starts, but this year that joke is on the other foot. Wow, that metaphor didn't work at all. Moving on.
  • Vanderbilt has players from five different countries. Ogilvy is from Australia, Taylor is from Norkopping, Sweden (Orghee bjork eebjorg!), Steve Tchiengang (pronounced "Chain Gang?") is from Cameroon (which, as far as I knew was a Christmas cookie), and Festus Ezeli is from Nigeria (Mayberry, Nigeria, I'd guess). If Festus wasn't also from Nigeria, I would have bet that Emmanuel Negedu still spoke more languages than the entire Commodore team, but because he is, I'll just settle for this: I cannot wait to see the head official's face when Negedu and Ezeli get into a shouting match in Nigerian Pidgin. Bonus points if it's Ted Valentine.
  • Did I say defense? Only three teams have scored more than 70 points against Vandy this season: UIC, Mississippi State, and Kentucky, who, as you know, has Jodie Meeks.
  • Vanderbilt has hit a three pointer in every game since 1986-87. The only other teams to do that are UNLV and Princeton, the latter of whom I'd guess doesn't actually play against opponents, but still.
  • Bench 'em all! Tennessee's bench has outscored the opposition's bench 444-248 (27.8 to 15.5 ppg) this season. Which makes you wonder if just starting the bench guys would automatically put more points in the starting lineup. An added benefit would be that it would make our starters bench players, which would apparently make them score more because they would then be bench players. Yeah.

Anyway, on to the stats:

KEY STATS COMPARISON
Tennessee logo
Vanderbilt logo
Category
Rank
Actual
Rank
Actual
Scoring Offense
7
83.5
163
69.1
Scoring Defense
308
76.1
14
58.0
Scoring Margin
82
7.3
42
11.1
Field-Goal Percentage
109
45.0
146
44.3
Field-Goal Percentage Defense
249
44.7
1
35.9
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game
119
6.8
197
5.9
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage
247
30.4
201
33.0
Three Pt FG Defense
287
0.369
157
0.336
Free-Throw Percentage
159
68.9
20
74.5
Rebound Margin
17
7.5
64
4.4
Assists Per Game
18
17.0
172
13.3
Assist Turnover Ratio
42
1.17
189
0.91
Blocked Shots Per Game
114
3.8
45
4.8
Steals Per Game
130
7.3
220
6.3
Turnovers Per Game
190
14.5
184
14.5
Turnover Margin
124
1.1
227
-0.9
Personal Fouls Per Game
291
20.8
45
16.3

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH Tennessee logo
Vanderbilt logo
Category Player Rank Actual Player Rank Actual
Points PG Tyler Smith
77
17.8
     
FG%  
A.J. Ogilvy
51
54.7
3-Point FG PG  
 
3-Point FG%  
 
FT %  
Jermaine Beal
23
88.1
Rebounds PG Wayne Chism
38
9.1
 
Assists PG  
 
Blocks PG  
A.J. Ogilvy
100
1.6
Steals PG  
 
Assist-TO
Ratio
Bobby Maze
73
2.04
Jermaine Beal
35
2.41

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