GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores will try for their first three-game win streak since December, as they take on the Auburn Tigers in an SEC clash on Saturday night.
Vanderbilt's season as a whole has not been a strong one, as it sits at just 12-15 overall and 6-9 in league play, but things have been looking up of late with wins in three of its last four games. The Commodores hosted Georgia on Wednesday night, and after trailing by double-digits at the half, they drained a last-second shot to come away with a thrilling 63-62 victory.
Since beginning its SEC slate at 2-0, Auburn has gone ice-cold, losing 12 of its last 13 bouts, including six straight. The Tigers were no match for Alabama in their latest game, falling on the road on Tuesday night, 61-43, to drop to 9-19 overall and 3-12 in conference, and while they return home for this matchup, Auburn Arena has hardly been a safe haven for the squad (7-8).
Vanderbilt has defeated Auburn on seven straight occasions, including 73-61 in Nashville on Jan. 23, to extend its lead in the all-time series to 83-51.
The Commodores climbed back from as many as 17 points down to take six-point lead with less than six minutes left in the game, and even though they coughed up that advantage down the stretch, Kevin Bright's jumper with under a second remaining secured them the one-point win. Vandy just 37.3 percent from the field on the night, but it was outstanding from the foul line (17-of-18) and committed just four turnovers. Kedren Johnson scored 17 points and dished out five assists, Sheldon Jeter failed to miss on four field goal attempts en route to 14 points and Bright finished with 11 points. Vanderbilt is typically able to keep most of its game's close thanks to a defensive effort that ranks third in the SEC (59.8 ppg), but unfortunately its lackluster scoring attack (60.1 ppg) has prevented it from becoming one of the league's top teams. Johnson is the catalyst, putting up team-highs in scoring (13.6 ppg), assists (3.6 apg) and steals (1.1 spg). Rod Odom is the only other player to net in double figures on a nightly basis with 10.3 ppg.
Auburn had its worst offensive showing of the season the last time out, shooting just 30 percent from the field while committing as many turnovers as it had field goals (15). The team's troubles were accentuated from beyond the arc, as it made just 2-of-15 3-point tries. Rob Chubb was the lone player to put together a noteworthy performance, scoring 13 points and blocking a pair of shots. Frankie Sullivan's struggles continued in the setback, as he shot just 1-of-9 from the field (including 1-of-7 from 3-point range) for six points, and while he is still the team's leading scorer with 14.4 ppg, he has registered single-digits scoring efforts in six of the last seven games. Chris Denson provides a spark off the bench with 10.8 ppg, while Chubb is a reliable presence in closer to the basket with 8.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 1.0 bpg. As a team, the Tigers rank in the bottom-half of the SEC in both scoring offense (64.7 ppg) and scoring defense (68.3 ppg).
In a matchup between two of the most futile offenses in the league, points are sure to come at a premium. Auburn has shown some promise at home (7-8), but the advantage one usually has when playing in front of its fan base hasn't meant much during its current skid, and Vanderbilt should be able to continue the momentum in created earlier in the week to capture its third straight win.
Game Date and Time