Stallings: Hundley's contributions were huge

Kevin Stallings reflected Thursday on Vanderbilt's emotional 94-91 win over Georgia, and looked ahead to the Commodores upcoming home game vs. Ole Miss. Stallings was particularly complimentary of the play of junior Scott Hundley, who came off the bench to score 14 points against the Bulldogs.

Kevin Stallings: We played very well against Georgia, particularly offensively. So we're feeling a little better about ourselves. We lost three in a row there and weren't feeling so good, but a win helps that certainly. We know Mississippi is a tough team. They've been tough on us. They play with great defensive intensity and pride and toughness. We'll have to be prepared for that and match that. But we feel pretty good about how we're playing. Even in losing we felt pretty good about how we played at Florida, and we certainly played well last night.

Q: You mentioned how well you've been playing offensively, but to hit 57% from the floor... and for the fifth straight game you guys have hit 50% from 3-point range. What has been the key? You guys struggled a little bit from 3-point range earlier in the season.

A: Some of it is the law of averages, because I don't think we were as bad a shooting team as we were showing earlier in the season. I also think we've become a little more knowledgeable about what we want to do on offense, and how to run it effectively. Earlier in the season we had the after-effect of last year where the 3-point shot was sometimes the first option... as it became more the second option, our offense got better; and as our guys understood that we needed to get the ball inside more, the 3-point shot started opening up and getting easier.

Q: Are you surprised at how well they've been shooting?

A: Yeah, I wouldn't think most teams would go five games and be over 50% from 3. It doesn't happen very often, but we've been pretty selective in the ones we've taken. We're not shooting as many, and we're making more... and I like both of those facts.

Q: Talk about the game that Scott Hundley had.

A: He played great. He had 14 points and he was 8-of-9 from the foul line, but his value was, he just made one big either defensive play or toughness play after another in the course of the game. It's hard to say that anybody was more responsible for our ability to win that game than Matt Freije-- 31 points and 9 rebounds-- but if there was one person who was more responsible than Matt, it would have been Scott, because he made all of the little plays that we needed somebody to make. His contribution was absolutely huge. He's not the fastest guy in the world, but he plays very, very intelligent. He understands scouting reports. He understands tendencies. He understands the people he's guarding. He understands other people's offense before you even explain it to him. He has a very good, particularly defensive grasp of the game in terms of what is getting ready to happen. Sometimes that instinct that he has, intuitiveness, allows him to be in places ahead of where his athleticism might allow him to be.

Q: Can you comment on Freije's play the last few games?

A: Offensively he's been unbelievable. He was scoreless at halftime of the Tennessee game, and had 19 in the second half. Then he had a good game at Florida, and had a great game last night. Offensively he's been great. Defensively, up until last night, he'd been terrible, but last night he picked up his defensive intensity.

Q: Both your team and Mississippi are coming off emotional games. Can you talk about how that might play out Saturday?

A: I think that's the value of having seniors, and Mississippi has them and we don't. One of the hardest things to get your team to understand, particularly when they're young, is how to get your team to bounce back from a victory. Lots of times it's easier to get your team to bounce back after a loss than after a victory. We certainly have our work cut out for us in terms of getting our guys re-focused. At the same time, because Mississippi's pretty much had their way with us, I think our guys will be ready to play.

Q: [Mississippi Coach] Rod Barnes talked about having to take a freshman point guard into your place because of the unusual set-up. Talk about how much of an advantage that is for you.

A: Well, if it makes Rod feel any better, he'll be playing against a freshman point guard, so he'll have as much control over it as I will. It's different because, when the play is away from you, you have very little impact on the game. In terms of an advantage, I think our guys get used to it-- that's the only thing. I still think veteran teams have more of an advantage. But it's been a good home court over the years. We are certainly very comfortable playing at home. We've been playing pretty well at home lately.


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