Lowery on Dayton: "Plan worked like a charm"

DeMarre Carroll, Derrick Byars, and Shan Foster each scored in double figures to help the Commodores soar to a 63-60 victory over the Dayton Flyers. The two Vanderbilt seniors, Julian Terrell and Mario Moore, were the other key contributors – Terrell with six rebounds, six points, and two blocks, and Moore with five points and four assists in 27 minutes at the point.

It was, at last, a shining performance by the Commodores for most of the game. As was reported before the game, Coach Stallings used a new starting lineup to spur the Commodores to a quick start. Carroll was given his first start of the season, and Byars started at point guard in lieu of Alex Gordon or Mario Moore. The plan worked like a charm, as the Commodores fought to an early lead. Carroll went on to play all but six minutes of the game, pulling in nine rebounds and scoring 11 points on 5 for 9 shooting. DeMarre, who is known as a "glue" player and a spark off the bench, provided that spark at the beginning of the contest.

Free-throws were another key for the Commodores, who made 13 of their first 15 attempts, while Dayton only made 10 of 15 attempts on the game. Shan Foster sealed the game with critical free-throws to maintain the lead, on his way to 7-8 free-throw shooting and 19 points. Improved free-throw shooting was not the only thing that provided a margin of victory for the Commodores. The Flyers had 12 turnovers to the Commodores' 10. The Commodores also collected three more offensive rebounds than the Flyers. Vanderbilt played inspired defense for long stretches during the game, using help defense effectively to mitigate the effects of Dayton's dribble penetration. Additionally, strong rebounding and good defense led to several fast break chances, including a spectacular behind the back pass by Moore to set up a powerful dunk by Carroll. However, not everything was rosy for Coach Stallings and company on Friday night.

Vanderbilt made just a hair over 25% of their three point shots. Mario Moore was 0-4 from downtown, and only 1-8 overall coming off of the bench. Alan Metcalfe and Ted Skuchas combined for only 4 points and 4 rebounds while collecting 6 personal fouls in a total of 28 minutes of play. Skuchas also found himself defensively out of place occasionally, defending a perimeter player after a screen while Dayton's James Cripe got several easy chances in the post.

While many other aspects of the game could be seen as troubling, Commodore fans should not be concerned with the team's low scoring output or poor shooting percentage. Dayton head Coach Brian Gregory said after the game that the Flyers used the same game plan on defense that they used last season against the Dores. "We're a lot better than last year," said Coach Gregory. "We're able to recover quicker, and our guys understand what we're doing, even though we gave up a couple of backcuts." Gregory had nothing but praise for Vanderbilt's offense – "It's a good system. You're going to give up some shots, but this year they weren't able to just dead-eye take their time and shoot it. We mad them a little more rushed, because we're a much better team [than last year]." Vanderbilt's starters were able to run the offense very well, but some good perimeter shots just would not fall, and a couple of Commodores had off days.

Indeed, with Carroll in the starting lineup, Vanderbilt couldn't get much production at all from the bench. Vandy's bench players only collected 11 points and 5 rebounds, compared to Dayton's bench production of 20 points and 17 rebounds. Davis Nwankwo was unavailable for the game due to an ankle injury, and the Commodores sorely missed his availability off the bench as Metcalfe and Skuchas missed a couple of seemingly easy chances at post buckets.

Dayton's Brian Roberts was seemingly productive, with 21 points, but those points came at a high cost for the Flyers – Roberts took 17 shots and committed a team-high six turnovers. Monty Scott, the leading scorer from last year's Flyer squad, was held to nine points on nine shots, including 1-5 3pt shooting. Vanderbilt's defensive intensity improved, as dribble penetration cost the ‘Dores fewer points while every Flyer pass was challenged.

In short, this game could have been a 12 point blowout had the Commodores made a more typical 40% of their three-point attempts. On the other hand, Dayton could have easily collected its 9th victory had the Commodores missed any more free-throws or if Monty Scott had been able to shoot three point shots with his usual efficiency. This was a tough contest between two teams who fought for every point, and Vanderbilt's effort was enough to improve to an impressive mark of 9-1, keeping open the possibility of a 10-1 record an a top 25 ranking as they enter SEC play.


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