By Ron Wynn
After another horrid offensive showing against Arkansas, Vanderbilt broke out of its shooting slump in style Tuesday night at Memorial Gym. They set a record for most three-pointers made in a game. Unfortunately, Vandy didn’t win it, losing 89-79 in overtime to the Ole Miss Rebels. What made this loss especially painful was a sequence in the final three seconds of regulation. Kevin Bright hit a tough three-pointer from the left corner, falling out bounds with 3.2 seconds left. Immediately, Commodores’ coach Kevin Stallings began waving and calling for a time out.
But he didn’t get it. Then, two Vandy players converged on an open Ole Miss guard, leaving Marshall Henderson, the Rebels’ best outside shooter, alone. His 35-footer connected as the horn sounded. The Commodores scored only one point in overtime, while Ole Miss was getting 11. They join joined UT in the 0-3 SEC club (6-9 overall). Despite making 17 of 40 threes, Vanderbilt ultimately went down to defeat.
Two major factors in the loss were free throw shooting and rebounding. The Commodres were under 50 percent at the line (10 of 23, 43.5) and missed a lot of those shots down the stretch. Ole Miss won the rebound battle 38-35, but the Commodores had 20 assists to only nine for the Rebels. Henderson, last season’s national junior-college player of the year, hurt Vanderbilt with an array of acrobatic baskets on the way to 26 points. Reginald Bucker and Jarvis Summers each had 14. Summers was the player whom two Vandy players guarded in the final seconds, the mistake that led to Henderson’s game-tying basket.
There was plenty of doubt point guard and leading scorer Kendren Johnson was going to play Tuesday night. He suffered a partial dislocation of his right shoulder in the Commodores’ 56-33 blowout loss at Arkansas, his second shoulder injury this season. But Johnson not only played 41 minutes, he led Vanderbilt with 19 points. Stallings juggled his starting lineup, inserting Dai-Jon Parker and freshman Sheldon Jeter for the first time this season. Parker had 16 points and Jeter 13. Shelby Moats started in place of Josh Henderson at center.
Vanderbilt’s 0-3 start is even tougher to take because they realize with even a decent second half they would have secured the upset. They were ahead at the half 41-40, and seemed to take control early in the second half. But Ole Miss came alive in the final minutes, and closed regulation with a 35-12 run that included the Rebels making every key free throw, and Vandy missing most of them.
The Rebels are 3-0 in the SEC, 14-2 overall, and off to one of their best starts in many years. Vanderbilt is desperately trying not to get buried so deep in the SEC cellar that the season ends before the halfway mark. Their next game is Saturday at South Carolina. It begins at 12:30 on WUXP-30. They’ll follow that with a home game Jan 23 against Auburn at 7 p.m.
The Lady Commodores face LSU on the road Sunday, then will have another contest with arch-rival Tennessee Jan 24. That game is at 8 p.m. and on SportsSouth.
Photo By: AP