Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mistakes prove costly in loss to MSU

Vanderbilt fell to 1-2 in the conference after suffering a 73-66 loss to Mississippi State Saturday night in Starkville.

Coach Kevin Stallings gave his thoughts on the game during his postgame interview with Joe Fisher:

"We've got a good group of competitors. It wasn't our physical effort that got us tonight. We just didn't play smart enough. We've got to be an intelligent basketball team to be a good basketball team in my opinion and we just didn't play intelligently tonight and that's what beat us. We didn't defend well in the second half and that had something to do with them (MSU). I just thought, even in the first half, when we had a chance, I thought we got out of control and our veterans committed bad fouls. We had them in trouble because (Jarvis) Varnado was on the bench and then A.J. and Jermaine get in foul trouble for us, both on plays that you shouldn't commit fouls. We were our own worst enemies at times."

"They shot 63 percent (in the second half) which means we didn't guard well enough. Granted, some of them were tough shots but they scored 15 points in the first five minutes of the second half. That's just unacceptable. We're not going to survive those kind of stretches very often. It's disappointing. We thought we could have played better and played a lot smarter. You've got to give them credit because they made shots and they played well."

Here are some key stats that didn't go the Commodores' way:

*Mississippi State outshot Vanderbilt at the free throw line, 22-8, which resulted in 13 more points for the Bulldogs.

*The Commodores weren't able to capitalize when MSU's Jarvis Varnado was on the bench after picking up his second foul in the opening five minutes in the first half. With Varnado out, the Bulldogs outscored the 'Dores by eight to take a five-point lead into halftime. Also, A.J. Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal only played nine and 11 minutes respectively in the first half due to foul trouble.

*Vanderbilt's NCAA-leading field goal percentage defense allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 63.6% in the second half.

*The Bulldogs scored 19 points off VU's 17 turnovers. Probably the most costly turnover was when the Commodores had cut the deficit to two with 16:49 left in the game, but Phil Turner stole the ball around midcourt and quickly converted a three-pointer to push the margin to five. Turner's basket also triggered a 14-3 run for MSU.

*Guard Ravern Johnson had 10 of his 18 points during a six and a half minute span in the second half to help MSU extend their lead to 16 with 8:54 remaining. The Commodores only got as close as six for the rest of the game.

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