Vanderbilt (2-2) vs. Morgan State (0-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sports and Fitness Center (4,000) -- St. Thomas, Virginia Islands. Television: None. Home Record: Vanderbilt 2-0, Morgan State 0-2. Away Record: Vanderbilt 0-1, Morgan State 0-2. Neutral Record: Vanderbilt 0-1, Morgan State 0-1. Conference Record: Vanderbilt 0-0, Morgan State 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: In a consolation matchup of the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas the Vanderbilt Commodores will go up against the Morgan State Bears at the Sports and Fitness Center.
A 27-4 run in the last 10 minutes by Providence sank the Commodores in the opening round of the tournament Friday night. The loss was the second straight for the Commodores, who had opened with two victories at home before being sent away with losses against Butler (85-77 in overtime) and the Friars.
For the fifth time in as many games the Bears were unable to get in the win column on Friday when they were handed a 78-69 setback at the hands of the La Salle Explorers. The Bears won 11 of their final 13 games last season but are not off to a great start this year at 0-5.
This marks the first meeting between these two teams.
The Commodores looked to be in control, leading 56-40 with just over 10 minutes to play, but they crumbled down the stretch to succumb to the Friars. Vanderbilt went 1-of-9 from the field, 1-of-5 from the free-throw line and also committed four turnovers during the final 10 minutes.
Although they have been let down by their defensive efforts at times, coming to such a grinding halt on offense was out of character for the Commodores. In the first four games the Commodores are scoring 75.8 points per game and connecting on better than 50 percent of their shots from the field. Free-throw shooting has been a weakness, making good on less than 60 percent of their shots from the charity stripe. Eric McClellan (18.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Rod Odom (16.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) are the best offensive options for the Commodores. Odom scored 17 points against Providence and McClellan added 13 points and six assists. Damian Jones (9.5 ppg) has been valuable as a reserve, though he had only three points in his first start of the year on Friday.
Turnovers and poor shooting from beyond the arc doomed the Bears against the Explorers on Friday. Morgan State was outscored, 27-6, from 3-point range and allowed the Explorers to score 14 points off of 13 miscues. Morgan State also suffered from a 38-29 deficit on the boards.
The Bears have had issues on defense, allowing 79 points per game on 47,2 percent shooting. The lack of defensive pressure is coupled with some inefficient offensive play as the Bears are netting just 38.7 percent from the field and scoring just over 60 points per game. If not for Justin Black (18.4 ppg) the Bears would have even more difficulty on offense. Black is one of only two double-figure scorers on the roster. He had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting against La Salle. Ian Chiles (11.4 ppg) is the only other scorer posting consistent efforts. The 7-foot-2 center is coming off of a game-high 15 points against La Salle and has scored in double figures in consecutive games for the first time this year.
Vanderbilt may not be one of the best teams in the SEC this season but it possesses plenty of talent to take care of a still winless Morgan State squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 78, Morgan State 54
11/23 10:36:18 ET