GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores continue their three-game homestand on Wednesday night when they welcome the Tennessee Volunteers to Memorial Gymnasium for an SEC matchup.
After losing its first six road games of the season, Tennessee finally notched a win away from Knoxville on Sunday when they took down South Carolina, 66-61. It was the Vols' third win in the past five games, as they improved to 12-10 on the season and 4-6 in the SEC.
Vanderbilt was also victorious over the weekend, claiming a 67-49 decision over Arkansas on Saturday afternoon to snap a season-long, four-game losing streak. The Commodores haven't been very impressive on the campaign, going just 9-13 overall and 3-7 in conference, but they have managed to post a winning record in Nashville (6-5).
Tennessee squeaked out a 58-57 win over Vandy at home in the first meeting this season on Jan. 29 to extend its lead in the all-time series to 112-70.
In a game that featured 12 ties and 16 lead changes, Tennessee was finally able to put South Carolina away late thanks to a pair of clutch 3-pointers from Jordan McRae and Skylar McBee. Jarnell Stokes was once again outstanding in the low post, tallying 20 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double. Trae Golden was impressive off the bench, shooting 8-of-10 from the foul line en route to 16 points, and the team as a whole had a strong showing from the charity stripe (27-of-37). Stokes has asserted himself as one of the SEC's most reliable big men, as he has upped his season averages to 12.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 1.1 bpg, all while shooting greater than 56 percent from the floor. McRae paces the squad with 13.7 ppg, although he shoots less than 29 percent from 3-point territory. Golden (10.3 ppg, 3. apg) provides a spark off the bench for the Vols, who allow just 62.3 ppg to their opponents but fail to generate a lot of excitement at the offensive end with a modest 63.9 ppg.
Vanderbilt put forth one of its strongest efforts of the season in its 18- point victory over Arkansas on Saturday afternoon. Not only did it hold the Razorbacks to a mere 30.8 percent field goal shooting, but it made 50 percent of its total shots, which included a stellar showing from 3-point range (9- of-22). Rod Odom (15 points) and Sheldon Jeter (13 points) were both strong for the Commodores, while Josh Henderson came off the bench to shoot 5-of-6 from the floor for 11 points while also blocking three shots. Impressive offensive efforts have been few and far between this year for Vandy, as it boasts the SEC' s worst scoring offense with only 59.5 ppg. Luckily, it is able to stay competitive in most contests thanks to a strong defense, which yields just 60.6 ppg. Kedren Johnson is the team's best scoring option with 14.2 ppg and he also racks up team-highs in assists (3.3 apg) and steals (29). Odom (10.0 ppg) and Kyle Fuller (9.6 ppg) are the only other players who can be trusted on a consistent basis.
Vanderbilt hasn't wowed anyone with its play this season, but thanks to its defensive pressure, the team always battles, particularly on its home floor. Tennessee's scorers have been streaky, especially on the road, meaning the Commodores have a good chance at making it two in a row.
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