Villanova (3-3) at Vanderbilt (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Villanova 2-1, Vanderbilt 1-0. Away Record: Villanova 0-1, Vanderbilt 0-1. Neutral Record: Villanova 1-1, Vanderbilt 1-2. Conference Record: Villanova 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Two underachieving squads are set to do battle at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville on Saturday afternoon, as the Vanderbilt Commodores play host to the Villanova Wildcats.
After claiming an 89-81 overtime win against Purdue, Villanova was off to a 3-0 start, but since then things have gone downhill fast with three straight losses. The Wildcats suffered blowout defeats at the hands of Alabama (77-55) and Columbia (75-57) before battling Big 5 rival La Salle to the wire last Sunday only to lose in overtime, 77-74.
Vanderbilt opened the year with an 80-65 win over Nicholls State at home, but then it dropped three in a row to Oregon (76-48), Davidson (75-62) and Marist (50-33), before bouncing back with a 73-49 win over UTEP on Nov. 25. The Commodores return home for the first time since their opener, and they will play seven of their next eight contests in Nashville.
These two teams have only met one time before, with Vanderbilt winning, 80-73, in the 1994 NIT championship game.
The Wildcats' up-and-down start to the season has been almost perfectly captured in their statistics, as their field goal percentage (.416) and points per game (72.2) nearly matches that of what they're yielding to their opponents (.418, 72.7). Villanova led for nearly the entire game against La Salle before allowing a game-tying three-pointer with under 10 seconds to play in regulation to force overtime, and it made just 3-of-10 from the field in the extra session as it went on to lose. Mouphtaou Yarou tallied 20 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in the defeat, while JayVaughn Pinkston logged 19 points, seven boards and four assists off the bench. Although he is shooting just 31 percent from the field, Ryan Arcidiacono leads the team with 13.7 ppg while also handing out 4.5 apg. Pinkston (12.3 ppg) and James Bell (11.2 ppg) each grab 5.0 rpg, while Darrun Hilliard puts up 10.7 ppg to round out the unit's double-digit scorers.
The first five games for Vanderbilt haven't gone according to plan, as it is shooting just 40 percent from the field en route to 59.2 ppg, but it is coming off its most dominating performance of the year in the 24-point win over UTEP, shooting 51 percent from the floor (including 9-of-19 from three-point range). Leading the way for the Commodores was Kedren Johnson with 17 points on 7- of-11 from the floor to go along with four steals. Johnson has been one of the few Vandy players who hasn't gotten off to a sluggish start, as he's putting together 17.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, and 2.6 apg while shooting better than 48 percent from the field. Rod Odom tallied 16 points and seven rebounds in the win, and Kyle Fuller added 14 points and five assists. Fuller (12.8 ppg) and Odom (8.6 ppg) have consistently been the second and third options at the offensive end of the floor, but no one else scores more than 5.8 ppg.
Vanderbilt will certainly enjoy playing on its home floor, but outside of Johnson, it doesn't have nearly the talent to match up with Villanova. If the Wildcats can put forth an efficient effort from the floor, they should escape with a quality road win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 71, Vanderbilt 66
12/01 10:56:35 ET