Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Dores unable to stop Illinois

by Barca Blog

Call it a lackluster effort on defense.

Or just one of those nights when the opponent made every shot they looked at.

Either way, Vanderbilt (6-2) couldn't make a stop when it needed one, falling 79-68 to Illinois Tuesday night inside Assembly Hall.

"It wasn't a very good defensive effort on our team’s part," head coach Kevin Stallings said "You’re not going to win if you don’t go on the road and play with a lot of tenacity and toughness on defense and we just didn’t have it tonight."

The Commodores used a variety of sets to counter the Illini's hot hand but with little effect, allowing UI to shoot 59.3 percent (32-0f-54) from the field including 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from three-point range. And when things did seem to work, Illinois routinely found a way to make clutch plays and halt any real threat of a comeback.

"If we got them to the end of the shot clock, they just threw it in," Stallings added. "There were probably four, five or six possessions to go at the end of the shot clock, and you don’t shoot that percentage by yourself. They just made a bunch of shots. They shot it really good and it was hard to beat them."

Illinois set the tone from the beginning with a 9-0 run and forced Vanderbilt to fight from behind the entire night. The Illini led by at least seven points for the entire second half. In the end, the 'Dores simply had no answer.

“We just never stopped them consistently," Stallings said. "When we needed a bucket, we had some open looks and missed. It’s disappointing… but this game came down to us letting them throw the first punch and getting the lead, and us not playing well enough defensively. We just have to get back and figure out if we can guard better.”

Click here to listen to postgame interviews with Stallings and guard Brad Tinsley.

(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

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