Feb. 9, 2012
Vanderbilt's men's basketball team held off feisty LSU, 76-61, Wednesday night to move to 6-3 in the Southeastern Conference standings. Here are a couple of videos and notes from the victory.
1. I pulled out Wes' GoPro camera and filmed a behind-the-scenes video during pregame. Follow the Commodores through the basement of Memorial as they make their way from the locker room to the gym floor. And after final warmups, guard Kyle Fuller gets into the middle of the huddle to hype up the guys before tipoff.
2. How do you stop Jeffery Taylor now that he's added a pure three-point stroke to his repertoire? That's something opposing coaches are losing sleep over. Taylor leads the SEC in scoring (18.2) and three-point percentage (.590) through nine conference games. He's already made 44 threes (.478) on the season, just five short of his career total heading into his senior year. And remember, Jeff was only connecting on 29 percent of his attempts from long range before 2011-12. Amazing.
Just watch these four Taylor plays from the LSU game... the first two display his athleticism around the rim and ability to slice and dice through any defense (which we've grown to love over the years). The last two plays show how his consistent outside shooting has redefined his game. The back-to-back trifectas gave the Dores a big boost during a 12-0 run to put the game away. "Jeffery Taylor... I don't think he gets enough credit," LSU Coach Trent Johnson said. "He's an athletic player. He is going to play for money. In college, we don't get enough athletes like him."
3. Get the Big Man the ball. We know how much Festus Ezeli impacts the squad because we've seen enough games without him. The senior center was limited in practice prior to the LSU game, but that didn't stop him from playing a pivotal role in the win. Ezeli still showed off his explosiveness with a variety of two-handed slams.
In the video below, you'll notice Ezeli worked hard on positioning to establish his presence in the paint. It helped him attempt 10 shots from the field, which is only the second time he's ended up in double figures in that category this year. Even better, though, were the entry passes from his teammates to setup the easy dunks (especially the sweet no-look from Kedren Johnson). "They were looking for me and kept feeding me, and I had to deliver for the team," said Ezeli.
4. Finally, everyone knows John Jenkins can shoot. You don't need to read the scouting report to understand it. But the junior guard has improved on taking advantage of over-pursuing defenders eager to get a hand in his face behind the arc.
We've seen Jenkins use a crafty pump fake and step back move to gain separation for the long ball. In the second clip of this highlight reel, though, you'll see he's added to it with a crossover drive to the hoop. Attacking the basket regularly will also get the SEC's top free-throw shooter (.903) to the line more (he's only fourth on the team in attempts for the year). Last night, Jenkins attempted his highest total of free throws (7) in seven games. "I was taking what they were giving me," said Jenkins, who leads the league in threes made (34). "They were really pressuring me and really getting into me and I wanted to drive. I was able to get by a little bit and make a couple of jump shots and floaters. It worked out well."