Feb. 2, 2010
After starting the SEC season on the road for four out of their first six games, the Commodores return home to the friendly confines of Memorial Gym to take on SEC West leader Mississippi State on Wednesday night. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the game can be seen live on the SEC Network, ESPN360.com, and ESPN Full Court. The radio call can be heard on the Vanderbilt-ISP Radio Network and vucommodores.com, with Joe Fisher and Tim Thompson courtside with all of the action.
Vanderbilt returns home in a tie atop the SEC East standings with a 5-1 league record and a 16-4 overall record. The Commodores dropped their only league game of the season, 85-72, in their last time out at Kentucky. Vanderbilt was led by Jermaine Beal, who scored 19 points, and four other Commodores in double-figures - A.J. Ogilvy (12), Andre Walker (10), Jeffery Taylor (10), and John Jenkins (10). In the deciding statistics of the game, Kentucky converted on 12-of-23 shots from beyond-the-arc Saturday (52.2%), and outrebounded the Commodores, 41-22, including 18-3 on the offensive glass.
The Commodores begin a stretch of games Wednesday that has the team home for five out of their next seven games. This after beginning the year with four out of their first six on the road. Vanderbilt has played only two home SEC games this year - against Florida (W, 95-87) on January 9, and against Auburn (W, 82-74) on January 23.
Beal assumed the team lead in scoring average after averaging 22.0 points per game last week. The senior from DeSoto, Texas, averages 14.0 points per contest. Taylor is next with 13.9 points per game, with Ogilvy (13.8) and Jenkins also averaging double digits.
Vanderbilt is currently 14th in the latest RPI rankings distributed by the NCAA. The Commodores moved up 13 spots from last week's rankings, and are the second-highest rated SEC team in the ratings behind Kentucky (6th).
Vanderbilt and Mississippi State will meet for the 115th time on Wednesday. Vanderbilt holds a 71-43 advantage in the all-time series, and a 43-8 series lead in games played in Nashville. Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings is 5-7 against the Bulldogs and 3-2 against Mississippi State at Memorial Gym.
Mississippi State enters the game atop the SEC West with a 4-2 SEC mark and a 16-5 overall record. The Bulldogs most recently won their last time out against LSU at home with a 67-51 victory over the Tigers in Starkville.
The Bulldogs have four players that average double figures in Ravern Johnson (14.0), Jarvis Varnado (13.5), Dee Bost (11.4), and Barry Stewart (11.2). Varnado is one of the nation's top big men - he also adds 11.1 rebounds per game, which leads the SEC, and 5.0 blocks per contest, which also leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation.
Mississippi State has two players in their projected starting lineup from the state on Tennessee - senior Barry Stewart, from nearby Shelbyville, and senior Jarvis Varnado, who is from Brownsville, Tenn.
In the last time the two teams met at Memorial Gym, Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer, Shan Foster, scored 42 points and made nine consecutive three-pointers to lead the Commodores to an 86-85 overtime victory over Mississippi State at Memorial Gym on March 5, 2008. The win, which came on senior night, propelled VU to a 19-0 home record that season, the sixth undefeated season at home for Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym and the most home wins ever for a VU team at Memorial Gym in a single season.