GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores will tip off a season-long five-game homestand on Thursday night with a non-conference bout against the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Marshall currently sits with a 4-3 overall record thanks to its stellar mark at home (4-1) paired with a discouraging 0-2 start on the road. The Herd recently snapped a two-game win streak on Saturday when they visited East Tennessee State and came away with a disappointing 88-78 setback.
Vanderbilt participated in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, and after losing its opening-round game to Providence (67-60), it redeemed itself with wins over Morgan State (75-66) and Loyola Marymount (77-68) in the consolation rounds. The Commodores faced Texas in Austin on Monday and fought hard before losing, 70-64, to slip to 4-3 on the season.
This marks the first time the Herd and the Commodores will square off in men's basketball.
The Herd dug themselves a 15-point hole against ETSU the last time out, and while they were able to shrink that deficit down to two late in the second half, they could not get over the hump. It was a modest field-goal shooting afternoon for the squad (.429), but what really hurt it was its 6-of-30 showing from 3-point range (.200) and its 18-of-35 performance at the foul line (.514). Kareem Canty did what he could to lift his team to victory with 19 points and six assists. Ryan Taylor tallied a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds, while Chris Thomas (17 points), Elijah Pittman (16) and Shawn Smith (11) were also solid. Scoring points has not been an issue for Marshall on the young season, as it nets 88.4 points per game on nearly 50 percent from the field, and its efforts are more often than not led by Elijah Pittman, who's scoring 23.7 points per game. Canty (17.0 ppg) is an excellent scorer in his own right and has dished out 7.3 assists per game as well. Thomas (13.6 ppg) and Taylor (11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg) are also regular contributors.
Although the Commodores kept their deficit to single digits for much of the second half against Texas earlier in the week, including just one point in the final minute, they could never take over down the stretch. They shot themselves in the foot all night, both with their poor shooting from the field (.379) as well as with their 15 turnovers. Eric McClellan scored 22 points, but he arguably did more harm than good by shooting 5-of-14 from the floor while turning the ball over five times. Josh Henderson and Rod Odom chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively. Vanderbilt's turnover problem has become a bad habit in the early going. The team owns a -3.4 takeaway margin, but its scoring (+2.0) and rebounding (+2.4) margins are still in the green despite that number. McClellan is the team's top scorer, putting up 17.6 points per game, but he's been ice-cold from 3-point range to start the year (4-of-25). Meanwhile, Odom (13.3 ppg) has been much more effective from beyond the arc (21-of-43), while Kyle Fuller brings 10.4 points and 4.0 assists per contest to the table.
Marshall's offensive attack is undoubtedly dangerous, but it hasn't been able to keep its opponents off the scoreboard either. Defending its home floor, expect Vanderbilt to score a little more than usual in this one en route to a solid win.
Game Date and Time