South Carolina came into Nashville tonight with the reputation of being a hard nosed, gritty, defensive team. What they didn't know was that Vanderbilt came with that same mentality tonight in their game against the Gamecocks.
In possibly their best and toughest defensive performance of the year, Vanderbilt (14-13/7-7) played hard nosed basketball and wouldn't back down from the Gamecocks physicality. They never backed down and even to a harder fight to South Carolina as they fought their way to victory, over a nationally ranked team.
The first half was a back and forth affair as both teams were getting a feel for each other. The Gamecocks star guard Sindarius Thornwell was tough to control the entire game but in the 1st half, he had his way to the rim or the foul line.
Thornwell is a vet who knows his way around the conference and is savvy finding the basket. He finished the game with 23 points but did most of his damage in the 1st half.
The Gamecocks would answer every made basketball by the Dores in the 1st half but Vanderbilt wouldn't allow South Carolina to stretch out a lead. Commodores guard Nolan Cressler was clutch in the 1st half with some huge made three's that kept his team in the ball game.
South Carolina (20-7/10-4) took a 30-27 lead into the break and was feeling good about themselves headed into the 2nd half.
Vanderbilt had played South Carolina's style of game in the 1st half, so you have to think head coach Frank Martin felt good about how things was working in the Gamecocks favor. Little did he know that the Commodores and head coach Bryce Drew were prepared for the tough style of game and were ready to fight all the way to the end.
The Commodores stepped up their intensity on defense and played smooth offense, which allowed open shots for their top three point shooters.
Vanderbilt locked it down on defense down the stretch and controlled the boards as they slowly pushed away from the Gamecocks and would eventually come away with the win.
Fisher-Davis came off the bench to lead the team in scoring at 17 but LaChance might have been the star of the game. He did have three turnovers but two of those was late. Overall, he handled the ball really well and stepped up when his team needed him the most. He nailed several clutch three's in the 2nd half and put away the Gamecocks at the end of the game from the foul line.
LaChance finished the game with 14 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. Cressler chipped in 13 and was outstanding from three but more importantly, he was dynamite driving the ball to the rim.
Vanderbilt's win tonight has now kept themselves in postseason talk. They hit the road to start next week on Wednesday and in Knoxville against in-state rivals, the Tennessee Vols. The game will air on the SEC Network, tipping off at 6:00 pm Central.