Three Thoughts from Vanderbilt’s Win over Georgia TechPosted by David Changas on December 21st, 2013
David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday’s Vanderbilt-Georgia Tech game in Nashville.
Vanderbilt moved to 7-3 on Saturday with a 76-63 home win over struggling Georgia Tech. The loss dropped the Yellow Jackets to 8-4. Here are three thoughts from courtside.
- A game of runs. Georgia Tech was clearly in control, leading 31-17 with 6:02 left in the first half. The Yellow Jackets had taken the less-than-capacity crowd out of the game and looked to be poised to run away with it. From that point, however, Vanderbilt scored 39 of the next 49 points over a span of 16:37, and it was the Commodores who won this one going away.”I thought the key to the game was the last seven minutes of the first half,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “When you get down [big] and you’re coming off two games in a row where you hadn’t played well, things can go a lot of different ways.” Given Georgia Tech’s balance and experience, and Vanderbilt’s lack thereof, it was a surprising turnaround. After November losses to Dayton, Ole Miss, and St. John’s, the Yellow Jackets had built some momentum with three straight wins, but could not build on it in their first of four straight road contests. Fifth-year senior center Daniel Miller scored 11 points in the game’s first 10 minutes and appeared to ready for a big night, but finished with only 16 points and essentially was a non-factor the rest of the way. Georgia Tech’s failure to take advantage of Vanderbilt’s relatively thin interior – the Commodores recently lost starting center Josh Henderson for the season – was surprising, especially given its early success. Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory was disappointed in Miller’s supporting cast of Robert Carter and Kammeon Holsey. “Daniel was tremendous. We need to get some other guys to step up.”
- Disappointing Golden. Trae Golden spent three years at Tennessee, and was allowed to play at Georgia Tech immediately because of family reasons after his offseason transfer. Given his wealth of experience – he started for three years for the Vols – Gregory welcomed him and expected that he could become both a difference-maker and a leader for the Yellow Jackets. Thus far, despite the fact that Golden leads the team in minutes (33 MPG) and assists (3.8 APG), and is second in scoring (12.6 PPG), his presence has not led to any different results. Georgia Tech is now 2-4 against high-major opponents, with the only quality win coming against Illinois in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Golden finished Saturday’s game with only eight points, and went 0-of-4 from three-point range. At Tennessee, he displayed the ability to get to the basket with some regularity, but had no success doing so Saturday against Vanderbilt’s perimeter defense. If the Yellow Jackets are going to turn around their inauspicious start and make any kind of run in conference play, it will start with Golden. So far, the results have been disappointing.
- Two teams going nowhere. In many years, a December game between these two teams would be met with anticipation. Unfortunately for both, however, this match-up was hardly a blip in the national radar. Prior to the season, both squads were expected to finish near the bottoms of their respective leagues, and both have shown why in the season’s first month and a half. From a talent standpoint, Vanderbilt is quite limited, and given the offseason departures of Kedren Johnson, Kevin Bright, and Sheldon Jeter, little was expected. Despite recent struggles in wins over lesser competition, the Commodores have been competitive in each game they have played. And while they may finish higher than most expected in the weak SEC, there is no realistic chance they can compete for an NCAA Tournament bid this year. As for Georgia Tech, which returned four starters from a team that finished ninth in the conference last season, the Yellow Jackets have given little indication they will exceed expectations this year, despite having some talent on the roster. It is hard to imagine Gregory’s team competing for a bid in the more powerful ACC.