One Again Free-Throw Shooting Dooms Commodores
Nashville, Tn.- With little more than pride at stake on Wednesday night, the Vanderbilt Commodores and Missouri Tigers battled as if their seasons rested on the outcome. In the end, the would walk away with a 61-52 victory.
Once again Vanderbilt left a win on the free-throw line, as for the game, the Commodores shot a miserable 55%, 16-29 from the charity stripe while the Tigers were near perfect, hitting 13 of 15 from the line.
The first half saw the two teams battle back and forth, matching each other shot for shot and basket for basket through the first twenty minutes.
Vanderbilt would build a nine-point advantage at 27-18 only to see the Tigers claw their way back, using a 7-0 run late in the half to enter the halftime break trailing the Commodores by just one, at 28-27.
Scottie Pippen Jr. led all scorers with 15 in the half, connecting on 2-3 three-point shots as he would hit 6 of 8 shot attempts in the half.
Saben Lee, the Commodore's leading scorer on the season was limited to just five points through the first twenty minutes of play. Dylan Disu and Maxwell Evans tallied three each while Ejike Obinna finished with two points.
Dru Smith led the visitors with six first-half points as seven Tigers scored in the half.
The Commodores struggled through the first half, shooting just 37% from the floor with the Tigers matching them as both teams finished 10-27 from the field in the half.
The second half start was not positive for the Commodores as Disu, who had two fouls in the first half picked up his third and fourth of the game in the first:25 second of the second half.
The Tigers would retake the lead shortly after Disu left the game, but as in the first half, the two teams would continue to battle before the Commodores slipped into an all-to-familiar scoring slump.
The Tigers would take advantage, going on an 11-1 run over the six-plus minutes Vanderbilt went without a field goal as the visitors would build as much as a 10 point advantage midway through the final half.
The Commodores would continue to battle both the Tigers defense and themselves as they managed to connect on just three of their first ten shots of the half in falling behind by double figures.
Vanderbilt would find a run of their own, battling back to cut the deficit to five on an Obinna dunk.
After a Commodore defensive stop, Lee was called for an offensive foul on a very questionable call that negated a basket and what looked to be an and-one situation.
Down 55-48 with 3;11 left, the Commodores would fall behind 59-49 following the offensive foul on Lee and as the clock ticked away, they would never recover as the Tigers would hold on for a hard-fought victory over the Commodores.
The Commodores would not score a field goal over the final 3:39 of the game.
Pippen Jr. finished the game with high honors, tallying 19 points followed by Lee with 14 as the only two Vanderbilt players in double digits.
Xavier Pinson led the Tigers with 17 points while Reed Nikko finished with 14 as the only two Tigers to score in double figures.
Vanderbilt finished the night just 22-52 from the field, good for 42.3 % and 4-17 from behind the arc for only 23.5 % along with the woeful free-throw percentage that cost them their second conference win of the season.
The Commodores take to the road for the next two games starting this Saturday when they visit Oxford to face Ole Miss with tip set for noon CST on Saturday at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.