November 20, 2011

The NC State game in a nutshell

Vanderbilt advanced to the finals of the Ticket City Legend's Classic with a 86-79 win over North Carolina State on Saturday. breaks down all of the important details on the game.

Turning Point:

With 2:45 left to go in the game, Vanderbilt trailed N.C. State 77-76 after a DeShawn Painter layup. Commodore guard Brad Tinsley tried to answer with a jumper from the top of the lane, but his shot was too strong. However, fellow senior Jeffery Taylor was among a number of Commodores crashing the boards and the forward tapped it in to put the Commodores in 78-77 and igniting a 10-2 run to finish off the game.

John Jenkins nailed a three-pointer on the following possession and Lance Goulbourne came up with a huge steal during the Wolfpack's next possession, and drew a foul. After Goulbourne converted on both free throws, the senior from Brooklyn ripped down another defensive board and soon the Commodores would ice the game with free throws.

What went right:

Vanderbilt's shooting and ball movement in the first half, and tenacity on the boards down the stretch in the second half.

The Commodores came out of the gate on fire offensively, shooting 54.8-percent from the field. Vanderbilt did much of its damage behind the arc as the 'Dores made six of it's first 10 shots from three and finished the half converting 8-of-17 attempts. The shots were well within the offense as the Commodores worked the ball inside and out on more than a few occasions, employing more backdoor cuts than what the team has displayed in its first three games.

The Commodores didn't shoot as well in the first half and found themselves in a dog fight at times. However, the team attacked the boards, posting 21 during the stanza with 14 defensive rebounds and seven key offensive boards.

What went wrong:

Front court defense, turnovers and some lapses in free throw shooting.

It's becoming quite clear that Vanderbilt is going to have its troubles at times to stop teams with athletic front court players during star center Festus Ezeli's absence. VU had a lot of trouble early on against Wolfpack forwards C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell. Leslie, one of the ACC's most promising freshmen a year ago, had not played in NC State's first three games but he showed his explosive skill around the basket. VU simply had no answer and his play was a prime reason why N.C. State was able to stay in the game in the first half as the 6-foot-8 sophomore scored 18 points in the first 20 minutes. Howell also ate up VU at times during the second half and while Leslie struggled with an injury.

Turnovers at times, particularly at the top of the lane, were a problem during portions of the game. On more than a few occasions the Commodore guards struggled with N.C. State's length as Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Williams combined for eight steals for the Wolfpack. The turnovers led to 24 points for N.C. State, again, another big reason for State staying in the contest.

Free throw shooting has been a quirky issue for the Commodores all season so it wasn't that much of a surprise to see it creep up again on Saturday. The Dores converted just 21-of-33 attempts, with players like Jeffery Taylor and Steve Tchiengang missing eight combined. These lapses didn't cost VU the game, and perhaps the most positive thing is that the Commodores converted most of its attempts in crunch time, but it's simply more potential points and even in some momentum, "and-one plays" that VU left on the court with the misses.

Decisive match-up:

Vanderbilt's guards vs. N.C. State's perimeter defense. The Wolfpack did make things interesting a few times with some forced turnovers, but by in large, Vanderbilt's guards utilized both their shooting stroke as well as mobility to open up several opportunities for the offense and over 45 points.

North Carolina State had trouble guarding John Jenkins for most of the night, biting on some of his ball fakes and getting burned on his step backs. The Wolfpack also lost Brad Tinsley on several occasions and the senior point guard made them pay with a 5-of-8 night, including two threes.

Player of the game:

Jenkins. When the Gallatin native was ruled out for the Bucknell game on Tuesday due to a sprained ankle, it was questioned on whether or not the committee from the Ticket City Legend's Classic would be able to see one of the star players featured on its program or not.

Good news for them and for Vanderbilt, they not only got to see Jenkins on Saturday, but they got to see the very best of the talented junior. Jenkins was 10-of-16 from the field, scoring in a number of ways. The All-American candidate converted on four three's including a big one in the closing minutes of the game. He also utilized some his improved cutting ability on backdoor plays and curl looks, and he attacked the basket on breaks as well.

Jenkins also showed some passion during stretches on the game and was there to provide an answer during any time in which the Wolfpack got on a run.

It was Jenkins best game of the season, by far.

Biggest surprises:

The backdoor plays. North Carolina State has some aggressive guards with length, so it made perfect sense to use some of that aggression against them, but seeing the return of some of the dribble-to, backdoor bounce passes was a pleasant surprise. The plays were not only successful during the early going on the game, but they may have made Brown and Williams pull off a bit and give the Commodores more room to work offensively.


There looked to be no injuries for Vanderbilt during the game. Center Festus Ezeli is out for an uncertain amount of time due to a leg injury. The senior was not with the team in New Jersey regardless due to the NCAA rule against players on suspension.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!