GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores and the Davidson Wildcats are set to meet on Thanksgiving Day in the opening round of the 2012 Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
The winner will advance to play either Marist or West Virginia in the semifinals, with the losers facing off in the consolation bracket.
Vanderbilt has played just two games in the first two weeks of the season, defeating Nicholls State in the opener at home on Nov. 10 (80-65), and losing on the road versus Oregon on Nov. 16 (74-48).
Davidson started off the season strong with a 93-67 home win over Emory. The Wildcats coming into this tournament on a two-game skid however, having dropped hard-fought road matchups against New Mexico (86-81) and Milwaukee (73-68).
The Commodores lead the all-time series with the Wildcats, 4-1, which includes an 87-83 win last December at Belk Arena.
Vanderbilt has had two extreme outcomes through its first two games, winning its opener by 15 points and losing its next game by 26. There wasn't much to write home about in the loss to Oregon, as the Commodores shot just 34 percent from the field, including a woeful 4-of-21 from three-point range, while also committing 18 turnovers and shooting a mere 12-of-20 from the free throw line. Kyle Fuller was one of the few bright spots as he tallied 17 points. Kedren Johnson added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Johnson (19.5 ppg) and Fuller (16.0 ppg) are expected to be the team's top performers this year, as both see more than 36 minutes of action per game. Kevin Bright has gotten his freshman campaign off to a solid start by averaging 10.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg, and he's also drained 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc.
Davidson has stumbled to a 1-2 start despite averaging more points (80.7 ppg) than it allows (75.3 ppg). The team's late-game struggles were on full display in its latest matchup with Milwaukee, as it led by as many as seven points in the second half only to lose by five thanks in part to not hitting a field goal in the final 4:44. De'Mon Brooks impressed with a double-double consisting of 14 points and 11 rebounds, but he managed to connect on just 4- of-12 field goal attempts. Despite his struggles against the Panthers, Brooks is still the team's leading scorer (20.0 ppg) and he shoots 50 percent from floor. J.P. Kuhlman shot much better (6-of-9) en route to a team-high 16 points, and Tyler Kalinoski came off the bench to tally 14 points and four steals. Kuhlman (13.3 ppg), Kalinoski (11.7), Chris Czerapowicz (11.0), and Jake Cohen (10.0 ppg) round out the balanced Wildcats' scoring attack.
Vanderbilt is trying to replace a veteran squad from last season with a bunch of new faces, and so far it has yielded mixed results. The Commodores should be an erratic bunch all season, and if Davidson can buckle down in the second half, it should be able to advance to the semifinals.