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Vandy Tops Belmont 85-76

Vanderbilt
Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

It certainly wasn’t easy, but Vandy wins at Memorial. Turnovers were still an issue as the team committed 20. Credit must go to Belmont for their defense on Jenkins. I haven’t done the research, but this might be the first game John has ever failed to hit a three.

Regardless, Vandy had 5 players in double figures. The gameball goes to Festus Ezeli who was an absolute monster. 24 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, just an amazing performance. If you’re going to rag on Taylor, give him props for turning it on at a time of need. 16 points and 8 boards is a solid performance. MUST give Lance props for a great performance. He had 15 points and 6 boards, and if he cuts down on his turnovers he can be such a valuable contributor. Finally, Tinsley had a solid game scoring with 14 and shot well today, but having only 2 assists is concerning.
Anyway, that’s my analysis of the stats. Anyone who was at the game with anything to offer?
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Video: Post-WKU press conference

Men’s basketball head coach Kevin Stallings, guard John Jenkins and center Festus Ezeli answer questions from the media following the Commodores’ 82-62 win over Western Kentucky.
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Vanderbilt-App. State quotes

“I didn’t expect that to be an easy game. We wore them down as the game went along. We kept our bench in and kept our guys going. We got some good productivity from our bench, particularly Lance [Goulbourne]. Lance was outstanding, Festus [Ezeli] was dominant inside, and John [Jenkins] was all that we could have hoped for today.”
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VU-Grambling State postgame notes

Starting Lineup• Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the fifth time this season and sixth time total that Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup.• Jeffery Taylor leads the team with 69 career starts…Brad Tinsley is making his 60th career start while Andre Walker is starting for the 37th time…Festus Ezeli is appearing in his 66th game, including his 16th start…John Jenkins has made 12 starts and played in 36 games.
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Video: Post-Grambling St. press conf.

Men’s basketball head coach Kevin Stallings, guard John Jenkins and center Festus Ezeli answer questions from the media following the Commodores’ 92-59 win over Grambling State.
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Commodores Top UNC to take Third in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off: Leave with a Productive Trip

Vanderbilt
Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

Vanderbilt advanced to 3-1 with a 72-65 win over North Carolina last night. This was a great win for the ‘Dores as they left Puerto Rico with a productive tournament performance. Make no mistake, your early season performance matters, and you could make a good argument that this team is ahead of last year’s squad, who struggled in the Maui Invitational.

The general consensus seems to be that UNC is overrated, and that may be true, but you can’t take away Vanderbilt’s play in this game. They did a great job defensively, which overcame what I would argue was an average offensive performance. Despite being outrebounded on the offensive glass and in the game, they had huge performances when it counted from Lance Goulbourne and Festus Ezeli, who really owned the post in the last 10 minutes of the games. Taylor was great against freshman phenom Harrison Barnes and made several tremendous plays on transition defense taking away point blank shots for UNC. Perhaps most encouraging was the way we moved the ball. We had 14 assists from 6 different guys in this game.
What’s being ignored in the discussion is the fact that Vandy hasn’t even come close to it’s offensive peak yet. Vandy never shot over 50% from the field the entire tournament, and John Jenkins wasn’t his usual lights-out self except for the second half of the West Virginia game. Also, Taylor showed flashes of why he can be a legitimate SEC Player of the Year, but hasn’t put it all together yet. Concerns about his outside shot should be alleviated, as he is shooting .583 from three this season. The only thing left for Taylor is to realize just how difficult to guard he truly is. Finally, Vandy did not do a good job finishing around the basket on some easy put backs and drives in this tournament. I fully expect that a lot of those point blank shots will start falling as the season progresses and the team gets into the flow of season play. The same goes with Jenkins three point shooting.
But for the completely fixable issues on offense, the defense was quite solid for the whole tournament. Some of this has to do with the lack of outside presence (aside from Casey Mitchell of West Virginia), but there’s no doubt that we are a difficult match-up, particularly against average perimeter teams that rely on their big men (our 2-3 zone was fantastic all tournament). If we can put together 40 minutes on the glass, we’ll really frustrate a lot of the offenses in the SEC.
From Vandy’s perspective, perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the play of Festus Ezeli in the post. Big Fez is light years improved, doing a great job defensively in the post and asserting his will against a solid big man in Tyler Zeller. Fez still has some trouble with his body control at times and racks up a few fouls, but his footwork is so much more efficient and crisp underneath. Additionally, he showed how effective he can be offensively in that UNC game. He was an incredibly efficient 5-7 from the field, not to mention he shot 5-7 from the free throw line. That kind of production will absolutely help us to avoid a drop-off from A.J.
We also found out that we are much deeper than last year. While the players remained the same, Goulbourne and Stevie Thunder are vastly improved, and Kyle Fuller and Rod Odom are ahead of most freshman we’ve had in the past. I was particularly impressed by Fuller and Odom in this tournament, and feel quite confident that they can contribute significant minutes without much drop off.
Consistency is still a concern with this squad. From game to game you kind of wonder which team you’re going to get, but with such a small sample size it’s hard to tell whether that will plague us for the entire season. But when we’re clicking on all cylinders, you’d be hard pressed to find a more balanced and experienced team in the SEC, perhaps even in the country. With that said, if these Commodores continue to improve as is the trademark of many Stallings squads, and avoid the late season drop off that has been plaguing us the past 3 years, this could be our best squad yet.
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Vanderbilt-West Virginia Gamenotes

Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the fourth time Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup and the third time this season.
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Vanderbilt-Nebraska postgame notes

Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the third time Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup and the second time this season.
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Vanderbilt-Nebraska notes

Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the third time Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup and the second time this season.
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Vanderbilt-Presbyterian postgame notes

Starting Lineup•Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the second time Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup with the last game being a 76-69 loss to Western Kentucky December 11, 2009.
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