Missouri at Vanderbilt preview: Your call, Mizzou

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

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Missouri's last two opponents, Georgia and Auburn, were peaking a bit when they played the Tigers. Tonight's opponent, however, is not. Kevin Stallings' Vanderbilt squad has lost two key contributors this season. First, center Josh Henderson tore up his knee after eight games. Then, early in January, leading scorer Eric McClellan was kicked off the team. Now, McClellan wasn't incredibly efficient, and the Commodores still almost beat Kentucky without him, but Vandy has a painfully thin roster at the moment, and Mizzou might be able to take advantage of that. Here's to hoping, anyway.

Vanderbilt Commodores (8-6)


VU
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
67.1
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.04 1.00
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.32 1.13
2-PT FG% 52% 47%
3-PT FG% 35% 28%
FT% 64% 61%
True Shooting % 55.5% 48.7%




VU Opp.
Assists/Gm 14.0 11.1
Steals/Gm 4.9 6.8
Turnovers/Gm 14.6 11.0
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.29 1.63




VU Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 9.9 12.4
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 9.8 12.5
Difference -0.1 +0.1

Like much of the SEC, Vandy didn't exactly play a grueling non-conference slate; their non-con schedule ranked 181st according to Pomeroy. So keep that in mind when you look at these schedule-unadjusted numbers. What we see here is a team that, like Mizzou, thrives on outshooting its opponent but can't handle the ball well at all. Unlike Mizzou, the Commodores also don't rebound very well, especially considering their given size. If Mizzou rebounds like it did against Auburn, the Commodores will face serious pressure to drastically outshoot the Tigers. Not impossible, of course, but difficult.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

VU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

VU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 188 88 MU big
Effective FG% 69 24 MU
Turnover % 309 302 push
Off. Reb. % 196 56 MU big
FTA/FGA 106 61 MU
MU Offense vs VU Defense Ranks

MU Offense VU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 64 62 Push
Effective FG% 49 58 Push
Turnover % 233 297 MU
Off. Reb. % 50 183 MU big
FTA/FGA 17 77 MU

Where the 'Dores are weakest

Well, for starters, Vandy ranks 235th in Bench Minutes and is now without a player who was averaging 31 minutes per game. The 'Dores basically play seven guys and are still in the process of figuring out a set rotation, especially since they don't have just a ton of experience (142nd in Experience).

On offense, Vandy tends to get the wrong guys to the line. VU ranks 319th in FT%, thanks in part to freshman big man Damian Jones (51%). Vandy handles the ball terribly, as you see, but that's a wash against Missouri; the other key weakness could be rebounding, where Vandy ranks 196th in OR%.

On defense, it's something of the same story. Vandy stinks at forcing turnovers (297th in both TO% and Steal%) and doesn't rebound incredibly well (183rd in DR%).

Where they are best

The weaknesses above negate one of Vandy's perceived strengths: size. Vandy is sixth in effective height, thanks in part to the fact that 6'9 Rod Odom basically plays small forward. Of the seven Commodores who play, five are at least 6'7. (That probably reveals why ball-handling might be a bit of an issue.)

Size might not pay off on the glass, but it does work for them in other ways. Vandy is 52nd in 2PT% and 69th in Effective FG%. They also have the depth to foul your bigs and therefore rank third in Opponent FT%. And size on the perimeter has probably helped to contribute to opponents really struggling to find open 3s (Vandy's 11th in Opp. 3PT%).

Vandy's Season to Date

Games in italics took place when VU was at full strength.

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    No. 84 Georgia State (86-80)
    No. 119 Georgia Tech (76-63)
    vs. No. 143 Loyola Marymount (77-68)
    No. 205 Northeastern (79-49)
    No. 218 Marshall (69-67)
    No. 241 Morgan State (75-66)

    No. 268 Lipscomb (80-69)
    No. 281 Austin Peay (58-56)
  • Losses
    No. 16 Kentucky (62-71)
    No. 24 Saint Louis (49-57)
    at No. 53 Texas (64-70)
    vs. No. 67 Providence (60-67)
    at No. 78 Alabama (63-68)
    at No. 86 Butler (77-85, OT)

After losing Henderson, Vandy barely beat Austin Peay but rebounded to beat Georgia Tech, lose a competitive game to SLU, and whip Northeastern. After losing McClellan, Vandy wilted late against Alabama and early against Kentucky. Still, they only lost those two games by a combined 14 points. A lack of depth is a bad thing, but I dont think Vandy actually misses McClellan that much.

Vandy Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Rod Odom (6'9, 212, Sr.) 12.8 0.37 34.1 MPG, 13.2 PPG (41% 2PT, 44% 3PT, 73% FT), 5.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.4 TOPG
Kyle Fuller (6'1, 188, Sr.) 11.2 0.39 28.8 MPG, 10.5 PPG (48% 2PT, 36% 3PT, 79% FT), 4.1 APG, 3.9 RPG, 2.6 TOPG
Damian Jones (6'10, 235, Fr.) 9.9 0.43 22.7 MPG, 11.2 PPG (58% 2PT, 51% FT), 5.1 RPG, 1.9 TOPG, 2.7 PFPG
James Siakam (6'7, 215, Jr.) 9.5 0.42 22.4 MPG, 7.1 PPG (63% 2PT, 68% FT), 4.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.3 TOPG, 3.3 PFPG
Dai-Jon Parker (6'3, 190, Jr.) 7.3 0.24 30.2 MPG, 6.6 PPG (45% 2PT, 47% 3PT, 60% FT), 3.9 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.2 TOPG
Luke Kornet (7'0, 216, Fr.) 4.3 0.29 15.0 MPG, 4.2 PPG (59% 2PT, 22% 3PT, 67% FT), 2.9 RPG
Shelby Moats (6'8, 227, Jr.) -0.3 -0.03 10.7 MPG, 1.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG
Eric McClellan (GONE) 11.2 0.36 30.8 MPG, 14.3 PPG (52% 2PT, 18% 3PT, 61% FT), 4.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, 3.5 TOPG
Josh Henderson (HURT) 7.2 0.38 19.0 MPG, 6.6 PPG (49% 2PT, 65% FT), 4.3 RPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: McClellan (30%), Jones (27%), Fuller (21%), Odom (19%)
  • Highest Floor%: Siakam (45%), Fuller (42%), Jones (41%)
  • Highest %Pass: Parker (71%), Fuller (65%), Kornet (52%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Jones (54%), Henderson (53%), Odom (49%), Kornet (39%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Jones (24%), Siakam (18%), Henderson (17%), McClellan (14%), Odom (11%)
  • Highest %T/O: Moats (20%), Jones (13%), McClellan (9%), Siakam (9%)
  • Highest Off. Reb%: Henderson (12%), Siakam (11%), Jones (8%), Kornet (7%)
  • Highest Def. Reb%: Jones (31%), Siakam (30%), Fuller (28%)

  • McClellan wasn't efficient, but he did dominate the ball for a team that kind of needed someone to dominate the ball. The new best options are Rod Odom, very much a lets-the-game-come-to-him player, and Damian Jones, who can score even if he doesn't rebound enough for his size yet.

  • Despite poor free throw shooting, Jones really is a treat. A four-star freshman, he is averaging 11 points in 23 minutes, and he put up 18 & 9 in 36 minutes against Kentucky. Mizzou does have depth in the post, and that could be a good thing -- when in doubt, foul this dude (and make sure he doesn't get the shot up) -- but he's good and going to get better.

  • Henderson was the team's best offensive rebounder, so he's missed in that regard. Jones is pretty fierce on the defensive glass, though.

  • It does bear mentioning that Kyle Fuller and Dai-Jon Parker combined for 34 points on 13-for-18 shooting (4-for-7 from 3-point range) against Kentucky. If you focus too much on Odom, the other perimeter options can hurt you.

Keys to the Game

  1. The whistles. Vandy will test your big-man depth while trying to avoid getting crippled by its lack of depth on the wing. In theory, this bodes well for Missouri, which has a host of similar options on the inside (Ryan Rosburg, Torren Jones, Keanau Post, and maybe Tony Criswell) and a set of guards that can draw contact really well. But as always, it will depend on how and when the whistles are blown. Officiating always matters, but it seems to matter double this year, especially considering the way some refs seem to be reverting to how they used to call games before this year (and others aren't).

  2. The 3-ball. Vandy's 3-point shooting got better when McClellan (6-for-33 from 3-point range) was kicked off the team, and the Commodores do have a couple of scary options in Rod Odom (44%) and Dai-Jon Parker (47%). If Mizzou rebounds as it should (not a given), Vandy will probably need to outgun the Tigers from long range. If Mizzou can match Vandy's 3-point shooting and rebound better, that doesn't leave the Commodores many options for getting ahead.

  3. The glass. Why yes, I do basically have the same three keys for every game. Can you blame me? But yeah, Vandy doesn't rebound well for its size, and aside from a couple of games, Missouri has been awesome on the glass. If that story holds, the Tigers are in pretty good shape.

Prediction

My goodness, is this a pivotal game. Mizzou managed to survive Auburn while not inspiring any confidence at all ... but the Tigers did indeed survive. Win this one, and you can get to 3-1 before that murderous six-game stretch of @LSU, SC, @Arkansas, Kentucky, @Florida, @Ole Miss. That would be great.

Because Missouri has sunk like a stone in Pomeroy's rankings of late (41st before Georgia, a wretched 63rd now), this game is projected as a tossup, with Vandy getting a 67-66 edge. And it's hard to argue with that if the Mizzou of the last three games shows up again. But if that was just an awkward transition of sorts, and if the Mizzou that beat N.C. State shows back up, this is a 10-15 point win. Your call, Mizzou.

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