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William & Mary (7-4) at Vanderbilt (5-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 2, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gym (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: CSS. Home Record: W&M 4-1, Vanderbilt 3-2. Away Record: W&M 3-3, Vanderbilt 1-1. Neutral Record: W&M 0-0, Vanderbilt 1-3. Conference Record: W&M 1-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores will try to move back to .500 on Wednesday night when they take on the William & Mary Tribe in non-conference action at Memorial Gym in Nashville.
Considering William & Mary won a total of just six games during the 2011-12 campaign, its 7-4 start has been nothing short of fantastic. The Tribe had won a season-best four straight games, including a Colonial Athletic Association triumph over Old Dominion (71-62) on Dec. 22, but that streak came to an end last Saturday with a 73-66 loss at Purdue.
Vanderbilt has been up-and-down this season on its way to a 5-6 record. It is in the midst of a six-game homestand, and after winning the first two games against Alabama A&M (71-46) and Cornell (66-55), it has dropped the last two against Middle Tennessee (56-52) and Butler (68-49).
The Commodores have won all four previous meetings against the Tribe, but the teams haven't met since 1999.
William & Mary hung tough in its road matchup with Purdue, staying within single-digits throughout, but even though it outshot the Boilermakers from the field (.491 to .452), it suffered the seven-point setback by getting outscored at the foul line, 14-5. Marcus Thornton did his best to help lead the Tribe to victory, shooting 8-of-14 from the field for a game-high 21 points while also adding six assists and two steals. Tim Rusthoven was impressive as well with 16 points and seven assists, and Kyle Gaillard and Brandon Britt did their part with 12 and 11 points, respectively. The Tribe has been solid at both ends of the floor this season, shooting nearly 49 percent from the field for 70.4 ppg (tops in the CAA), while holding opponents to just 63.6 ppg. Marcus Thornton has been the club's go-to guy, as he ranks third in the conference with 18.3 ppg, while Britt (14.6 ppg) and Rusthoven (14.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) have been outstanding second- and third-options.
The Commodores came out flat in their home bout with Butler over the weekend, putting forth lackluster percentages from the field (.333) and the foul line (.421), while getting outrebounded by a 42-27 margin. Kyle Fuller was the only player to reach double figures with 10 points, and Kedren Johnson (nine points) scored less than 10 points for just the second time this season. Despite the poor effort against the Bulldogs, Johnson remains one of the SEC's best guards, connecting on 47.5 percent of his field goal attempts for 17.0 ppg. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, it is unable to generate much offense outside of Johnson, as it nets a lowly 59.3 ppg on 41.7 percent field goal efficiency. Fuller helps out with 12.3 ppg, and while Kevin Bright isn't much of a factor on the scoreboard (6.5 ppg), he provides a solid presence in the low post with 6.7 rpg.
Vanderbilt has been far from stellar this season, and even at home it hasn't shown the ability to keep up with quality opponents. William & Mary is one of the most improved teams in the nation, and it will continue to show that by picking up an impressive road win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: William & Mary 67, Vanderbilt 64
01/02 10:34:11 ET
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