Vanderbilt, fresh off its first Southeastern Conference win this season, travels to Texas A&M to face the Aggies in College Station on Wednesday night.
The Commodores (5-8, 1-6 SEC) led South Carolina for 37:30 in a 93-81 romp Saturday, the final made closer by the Gamecocks’ 13-0 run in the last 2:59. Vanderbilt found its much-needed third scorer when Maxwell Evans had a season-high 29 points.
Vandy otherwise has been led by Scotty Pippen Jr. (21.7 points per game, 5.5 assists) and Dylan Disu (14 points, 8.3 rebounds), both of whom were excellent on Saturday. Pippen scored 23, while Disu added 17 points, seven rebounds and five steals.
“I thought we came out with great energy on the defensive end, and that led to us having some early opportunities on transition,” Commodores coach Jerry Stackhouse said after Saturday’s game. “… It all stemmed from how we started on the defensive end and how we rebounded.”
The Aggies had their own performance to celebrate after a 68-61 win at Kansas State on Saturday. Four A&M players scored in double figures, with Savion Flagg and Jay Jay Chandler each contributing 14 points.
Now, the Aggies (8-7, 2-6) look to put together a winning streak, something that hasn’t happened since A&M knocked off Southeastern Louisiana and Wofford on Dec. 15 and 21, respectively.
However, Aggies coach Buzz Williams said he saw offensive improvement two games ago in a 78-66 loss to LSU and felt that carried over in Manhattan, Kan.
“We haven’t had any consistency in practice, which is why we haven’t had any consistency in games,” Williams said. “For whatever reason, our practices leading up to LSU (on Jan. 26) … we went six consecutive days of work. I don’t know exactly why, but we kind of narrowed even more our focus at both ends of the floor, which changed the itinerary of practice just a little bit more.
“I thought there was much more consistency on Sunday and Monday, which is why we were much better on Tuesday. We were able to pick up where we left off on Tuesday night. That’s the first time that’s happened this year.”
Wednesday’s matchup will be a contrast in styles.
Vanderbilt got 21 fast-break points against South Carolina, much coming with Evans and Pippen getting out in transition. The Aggies scored just two fast-break points and allowed just two against Kansas State.
Saturday’s 68 points were the most A&M had scored since netting 70 against Wofford on Dec. 21.
One key for the Aggies will be getting leading scorer Emanuel Miller (14.8 ppg) more involved. Miller had 12 points vs. Kansas State, but just two in 14 minutes against LSU the game before due to four fouls.
Pippen’s scoring is a constant for Vanderbilt. He has tallied at least 15 points in every game except one (an 84-41 blowout of Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 13), but it’s often his ball-handling that’s more important.
In the Commodores’ 78-71 loss at Florida on Jan. 27, Pippen scored 32 but had six assists and six turnovers. In Saturday’s win, Pippen had seven assists to one turnover, a season-best ratio.
–Field Level Media