Quick Facts about Vanderbilt
Location: Nashville, TN
Head Coach: Kevin Stallings (Overall Record: 292-192 in 16th Season)
2013-14 Record: 15-15 (7-11 conference)
2014-15 Record: 5-1 (4-0 home)
Last Game: 68-55 win over La Salle
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2012
December 4, 2014 (6:00 PM CT, ESPNU/WatchESPN)
The Baylor Bears travel to Nashville, Tennessee to compete in the Big 12-SEC Challenge this Thursday. The Bears demolished Texas Southern in their last game, but there is no doubt this matchup will be of a higher quality.
On the defensive end, the Bears will have to be on point with their zone rotations. Vanderbilt is an excellent passing squad and is averaging 18.3 assists per game, which ranks 10th in the country. Freshman guard Wade Baldwin IV seems to be getting the most amount of time at the primary guard position, averaging over 27 minutes per game, and is a dangerous passer, accounting for over 6 assists and an almost 4:1 assist to turnover ratio.
The majority of Vanderbilt’s offense comes from sophomore center Damian Jones, who battles his way into the paint and uses his height (6’10’’) to gain position. He is shooting an incredibly efficient 63% on the season, while averaging just over 17 points. Jones has been known to occasionally pull the three, but he is not the best long-distance shooter. If Jones gets in too much of a rhythm down low, expect the Bears to take advantage of his poor free throw shooting skills in order to force him to earn his point on the charity stripe. The Commodores also have two other seven footers, which will mark Baylor’s first test against a team of this size.
Offensively, I presume the Bears will have to continue to adjust to playing without Kenny Chery, who is still day-to-day with plantar fasciitis. While Lester Medford struggled against Illinois, he turned it around against Texas Southern, calming down his dribbling and making cleaner passes. It will be up to Medford to lead the Bears in outside shooting, with help from Royce O’Neale and Taurean Prince, in order to open up the paint for the Baylor bigs down low. Vanderbilt typically doubles the post down low, which means effective shooting will force the Commodores into outside coverage, making Rico’s, Deng’s, and Motley’s job much easier. Given the height limitations of this team, expect to see them play fast to prevent the Commodore posts from getting set and take a good number of jump shots to open up the paint.
Players to Watch:
Baylor: Lester Medford, Royce O’Neale, and Taurean Prince
South Carolina: Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin IV
Final Score Prediction: 72-68, Baylor wins