By Zac Ellis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As Vanderbilt prepares to face Georgia in Wednesday’s opening round of the SEC Tournament, recent history is on the Commodores’ side.
On Feb. 7, the Dores played one of their best games of the SEC season in an 81-66 win over the Bulldogs at Memorial Gymnasium. So can Vanderbilt take anything away from that win one month later?
“Maybe a few things, but they’re going to have time to prepare,” senior forward Jeff Roberson said. “I’m sure they’re running some things that they weren’t running back then. They’ll make some adjustments from that one game. We did play them, and we’ve got a little experience, but it’s going to be a different kind of feel going into this game.”
Still, the Commodores would be wise to remember what worked against Georgia earlier this year. Here’s how No. 13-seed Vanderbilt can sink the No. 12 Bulldogs in St. Louis (6 p.m. CT SEC Network):
Share the wealth
Vanderbilt didn’t force Roberson and fellow senior Riley LaChance to carry the load in that win over Georgia. Instead, five players scored in double-figures: Saben Lee (19 points) tied LaChance for the team lead in points, with Payton Willis (13), Joe Toye (12) and Roberson (11) rounding out the effort. It marked the first time since Dec. 30 against Florida that five Vanderbilt players scored 10 or more points.
That balanced offense paid off. The Dores shot a season-high 55 percent (27-for-49) from the floor. That includes 11-of-24 on 3-pointers.
Start fast – on defense
Vanderbilt’s defense has struggled this season, but it got the job done against the Dawgs. Georgia shot just 13-for-33 (39 percent) from the floor before halftime as the Commodores jumped out to a 39-31 lead. The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 43 percent, and though All-SEC forward Yante Maten scored a game-high 20 points, Vanderbilt allowed just one other player – guard Juwan Parker – to score in double figures. The Dores also scored 11 points off 10 Georgia turnovers.
“Defensively, when teams have shot in the mid 50s, we have not been successful,” head coach Bryce Drew said. “We’ve got to find a way to keep teams in the 40s.”
Knock down freebies
The Commodores made Georgia pay for its fouls, finishing 16-for-16 from the free-throw line. That included a 6-of-6 night for the freshman Lee. The Dawgs, meanwhile, knocked down just 12-of-19 shots from the charity stripe.
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digitla Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.