1. Vanderbilt has had relative fast starts throughout the season at home. That was the case again tonight as the Commodores jumped out to a 9-0 lead, aided by Georgia missing their first six shots from the field. A part of the issue early on for the Bulldogs was SEC leading scorer Yante Maten’s inability to find the bottom of the basket. Maten missed his first five shots and didn’t get onto the board until the 7:01 mark of the half. Maten ended the half with 6 points in 9 minutes thanks to two fouls.
2. Strong first half for Saben Lee. The freshman point guard has been among the few bright spots this season for Bryce Drew’s Commodores but has saved the majority of his scoring for the second frame. Lee scored 14 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and a perfect 4 for 4 from the free throw line. Lee took advantage of the Georgia guards, attacking them consistently off the bounce and threatening from outside by hitting 2 of his 3 three-point attempts of the half. Lee added 5 in the second half to tie Riley LaChance with a team-high 19 points.
3. Overall strong shooting first half for Vandy. The Commodores shot 52 percent, including 5 of 13 from three-point range, which is always a key to their success. Add in a perfect 8 of 8 from the foul stripe, only trailing 14-17 on the glass and the fact that the Commodores never trailed in the first half and you’d have to chalk it up as a near perfect half for Vandy given how things have panned out for most of the season.
4. Georgia clearly was committed to getting the ball inside in the second half. Maten was the focal point of that game plan pouring in 8 points in the early stages of the half while forcing Commodore forward Ejike Obinna out of the game with three fouls. The Bulldogs used a 9-0 run to claw back within one at 48-47 before seeing Vandy quickly respond to extend their lead back out to 56-51.
5. Overall, Vanderbilt had no answer for Maten in the second half and were he not to been saddled with foul trouble in the first half, that likely would’ve been the case for the full 40 minutes. Maten scored 14 of his game-high 20 points after halftime and showed why he’s probably going to take home not only All-SEC honors but the league player of the year award.
6. A week ago free throw shooting was the enemy for the Commodores as the missed two late foul shots that likely would’ve sealed a win at Kentucky. This week, the pendulum swung in the right direction for the Dores as they shot a perfect 16 for 16 from the line, while Georgia shot 12 of 19. In a game where the size advantage was obviously on the side of the Bulldogs, Vandy needed to find any way to level the playing field and they did so from the line despite UGa going into the bonus with 9:55 left.
7. Georgia came into tonight ranked 29th in adjusted defensive efficiency by KenPom and the top field goal percentage defense in the SEC during conference play but allowed Vanderbilt to shoot 55 percent, 58 in the second half, including 11 of 24 from three-point range. Two surprising statistics given what Georgia has on the line in terms of an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.
8. At this point, Vanderbilt looks to be locked into a Wednesday night game in St. Louis. The Commodores can hope to play spoiler for a number of the league’s bubble teams, like they did tonight, but there’s still an outside chance that this team could position themselves to a Thursday SEC tournament start date, although pretty unlikely.
9. Not sure what was up with Georgia tonight. You would think that a team still in the hunt for an NCAA bid would play with more urgency but that was even close to being the case tonight. KenPom favored Vandy by one tonight and it turned out to be an 81-66 win for the Dores. The Bulldogs are only favored in one of their final seven games and headed toward the NIT bubble with more performances like tonight.