Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hoops - Jackets Take Down Vandy

Well, I used the Moxi (DVR) and watched the game fresh into the late night. And what a great game it was, as the Jackets pull away late and beat a good Vanderbilt team 76-67 at home.

A very entertaining 1st half. The Jackets were on fire, hitting 16/24 shots. The offense was really clicking, with every player scoring points. A-Mo was hot, Buck was hitting his shots, Jeremis Smith seemed to be where he needed to be at critical moments. Dickey seemed to have some fire. Paco was very active. Interestingly, the defense against Vandy was pretty darn good, but Vandy just kept hitting long range 3's. But honestly it was just outstanding passing by Vandy to find the open man, then they found the open guy. I just can't fault the Jacket D. So the game stayed fairly tight the entire half with the Jackets taking a 5 point lead into the lockerroom.

The 2nd half opened with a little sloppy play by the Jackets, allowing Vandy to get close again, and it stayed nip and tuck the rest of the way. It proved to be just as entertaining as the 1st half, only the blood pressure steadily rose as the clock wound down. Finally the Jackets distanced themselves with a minute to go for the 9 point victory.

Very encouraging was that this was probably the most complete game of the season for the Jackets. They play two outstanding defensive halves and two very good offensive halves. There were issues, but overall a complete effort tonight with fire in their eyes.

Vandy shot 42% in the 1st half, including 6/13 from 3pt range. In the 2nd half they shot 46%. Statistically you'd say this was not a solid effort if you didn't see the game. You'd be wrong. The Jackets were very active on defense against another team that tries to play a slower style game using up the clock. Vandy just hit their shots. You have to give them credit. They hit a ton of long threes. They hit a bunch of contested shots. They had a few easy ones, but they made some good passes against a very active Jacket defense. Tech had 9 steals and Vandy had 16 turnovers total. The key stat is that Vandy finally started missing those long bombs in the 2nd half and they ended the 2nd half 23% from long distance. That was key. (It also helped that Vandy went 6-11 from the stripe in the 2nd half.

Overall great effort by the D tonight. More games like this and we just might win a few.

Tech dominated the boards 35-18. Particularly important is that Vandy just didn't get a bunch of 2nd chance points. A few, but not a lot. J-Smith and A-Mo led the way with 9 boards each. They did waht they needed to do and it made a difference.

Outstanding first half by the Jackets. 67% from the floor including 4/7 from 3pt range and 13 assists on 16 baskets. The amazing thing is that the trend never ended. They shot 61% for the game, 6-9 from long range. Ball movement was generally crisp, passing was good and they found the open man for a good shot a lot.

It was also a team effort with everyone hitting shots. A-Mo led the way with 28 pts, while 3 other guys hit for double figures (Buck, Bell, Dickey). A-Mo is just sick when he gets on fire. D'Andre Bell had a nice game for sure, hitting on some good long and mid-range shots.

The main negative for this game was turnovers. There were 22 of them. That's something that has been an issue this season. Get this under control and keep the defense and rebounding level high and this could be a fun ACC campaign.

our old buddy was at it again at the end of the game. Remember that referee Ted Valentine is the guy that gave UGAg a victory in double OT a couple years ago. First he makes sure that A-Mo gets credited for only a 2-pointer instead of a 3pt shot at a critical point in the game. Then with less than one minute to go, a Vandy player runs right into Buck Fredrick from behind and takes the ball from him which leads to two VAndy free throws. Buck was clearly run over from behind and who was RIGHT THERE watching it from 10 feet away? Old Teddy V. That's right. But Teddy, it was not your night. The Jackets prevailed anyhow. The guy who was banned from the Big 10 lives to fight another day.

Anthony Morrow is dangerous. That kid can flat out shoot the ball. I love his quick release and when he gets going, watch out. Deadly. If he can continue to expand his game and show an inside/outside presence, wow. He grabbed 9 boards tonight to go with his 28 points. Did I mention the 4 assists and 2 steals. Wow. And the kid has fire. He's got passion. I always liked Marvin Lewis and these two guys get compared a lot, but their personalities are so different. Lewis was much more reserved on the court, a reluctant leader. A-mo is fire in a bottle.

Fox Sports had a short interview with Coach Hewitt at halftime (it was taped prior to the game). He is very happy with the defense the last 4 or so games, but we've had way too many turnovers on the offensive end and have wasted those good defensive efforts. Says we need to shoot the ball better from the 3pt line. A-Mo is doing an outstanding job "carrying us" from long range, but Clinch and West are both capable 3pt shooters and if we can get those guys back healthy we'll have more firepower from behind the arc.