The 2014-15 season has been one to forget for the Missouri Tigers. After a half-decent non-conference slate that saw the Tigers play close games against Illinois and Oklahoma State, but lose to UMKC and almost SE Missouri State, Missouri had struggled mightily in SEC play. They opened SEC play with an overtime win over LSU, and then the wheels fell off. Missouri entered Saturday riding a 12-game losing streak, and they were hoping that a win over Vanderbilt would help to kick-start some positive momentum.
SEC play didn’t start well either for the Vanderbilt Commodores, but they have since turned things around. Like Missouri, Vanderbilt opened SEC play with a win over the Auburn Tigers, but then found themselves on a losing streak. The Commodores, who have a healthy dose of youth on their team this season, suffered through a seven-game losing streak. Since then, however, the Commodores have won three of their last five games, and are playing some strong basketball.
Saturday afternoon saw the two teams, who are going in different directions this season, take on one another with an important SEC win on the line. Both teams would continue on their paths, as the Commodores rolled to the 76 – 53 win over the Tigers, pushing Missouri’s losing streak to 13 games.
This game was all Vanderbilt, right from the outset. Missouri was held to just two points over the first five-plus minutes of the game, and the Commodores raced out to a 12 – 2 lead. Matthew Fisher-Davis hit two three-pointers in the opening minutes, and Riley LaChance capped off the run with a jumper of his own.
Missouri would try to cut into the lead, and were able to cut the deficit to six thanks to two free throws from Keanau Post, but the Commodores were too strong on this night. Fisher-Davis hit another three-pointer, followed by a jumper, and the lead was up to 14.
Vanderbilt held a double-digit lead for most of the first half, but Missouri was able to trim the lead down before the half was out. Montague Gill-Caesar made a three ball of his own for the Tigers, followed by a layup from Post.
At the half, Missouri had cut Vanderbilt’s lead down to single digits, but the Commodores held a 37 – 29 lead.
The second half opened the same way the first half did, with Vanderbilt making a run and putting more distance between themselves and the Tigers. The Commodores started the second half on an 8 – 2 run to push their lead to 14 points, capped off by a dunk from Damian Jones.
Luke Kornet scored five straight points for Vanderbilt, to push the lead to 15, and the rout was officially on. A Riley LaChance three pointer put the Commodores up by 22, and then Jones added two more points to put Vanderbilt up by 24 shortly thereafter.
The lead got as big as 27 points for the home team, and Missouri was never able to gain any traction on the offensive end. Vanderbilt led from start to finish on Saturday, and rolled to the 76 – 53 victory over the Missouri Tigers.
On the Missouri side of the ball, Montague Gill-Caesar scored a team-high 11 points off the bench in the loss. Guard Keith Shamburger added in 9 points and 8 assists for the Tigers in a losing effort.
For Vanderbilt, five different players scored in double-figures in the win. Damian Jones scored a game-high 16 points, while Wade Baldwin IV scored 13 of his own in the win. Riley LaChance poured in 11 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 5 assists to continue his ascent to stardom in the conference.
The loss was just another in what has been a dismal season for the Missouri Tigers (7 – 20, 1 – 13) in their first year under new head coach Kim Anderson. They will look to end their losing streak when they welcome Florida to town on Tuesday night.
The win marked the fourth win in six games for the Vanderbilt Commodores (15 – 12, 5 – 9), as they continue to turn things around after a shaky start to SEC play. The Commodores will look to keep things rolling in their next time out, when they go on the road to take on the Tennessee Volunteers on Thursday.