By Barca Blog - After losing five of its first six SEC games, Vanderbilt (19-11, 8-8 SEC) capped off their inspiring regular season turnaround with a 75-58 win over Arkansas Sunday afternoon at Memorial Gym.
“To start out 1-5 and to be able to claw your way back to 8-8 is an accomplishment,” said Kevin Stallings, who has coached Vanderbilt to a .500 or better SEC record in five of his last six seasons. “Obviously, we would like to be a few games better, but I’m proud of our team’s effort and performance and character in the second half of the conference season.”
No one truly knew what to expect out of such a young team, especially since the roster featured no seniors and only two juniors that log regular playing time. There were times the 'Dores could have made excuses and looked ahead to next year. The squad overcame the lows and fought back to win seven of their last 10 including three straight.
"I think it says a lot about our team's character for us to come back like that,” said freshman Jeffery Taylor. “We were never down, we trusted what the coaches were telling us, and we believed in ourselves."
Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey knows how tough it is to rebound from an early slump. Like the Commodores, his young Razorback squad also started 1-5 in the SEC, but ended up 2-14 at the end of the regular season.
"For Coach Stallings and his team to stay together and get where they are today, they are to be commended,” stated Pelphrey. “That is a very, very difficult hole to come out of and they should be applauded for that."
The Commodores are playing their best ball of the year at the right time. They will look to ride their momentum into the SEC Tournament starting Thursday against Alabama in Tampa, Fla.
Junior guard Jermaine Beal summed it up best.
“Let’s just keep this thing rolling.”