Tonight Vanderbilt will be hosting the South Carolina Gamecocks in what will be the first conference game both teams will play this season. We’ll preview the SEC showdown before reviewing my best bet for the game.
The Vanderbilt Commodores enter tonight with a 7-6 record and on a two-game winning streak. They’ll begin conference play with an offensive efficiency rating of 105.6 on KenPom, which is ranked 99th in the country. Their overall offensive numbers reflect pretty accurately the numbers of a near .500 team, as they have a 43.1% shooting percentage and are shooting 33.3% from three despite shooting an average of 25.2 a game.
Junior Myles Stute is the Commodores' best shooter from three-point range, as he’s been able to shoot 47.5% from deep on 85 attempts. Without Stute, Vanderbilt’s shooting numbers would be some of the worst in the country. Liam Robbins is actually the Commodores' leading scorer, as the big man is averaging 12.8 points per game. Still, his most significant contributions have been on the glass, leading the team with 5.8 rebounds per game.
Vanderbilt will need Robbins to be solid on the boards tonight since their opponent, the South Carolina Gamecocks, are averaging 11.6 offensive rebounds per game, which is 16th in the country. G.G. Jackson has led the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding this season, and his athleticism could pose many problems for the Vanderbilt defense.
The star freshman is averaging 17.2 ppg and 7.5 rebounds per game, and without him, the Gamecocks would likely not have a winning record this season. Despite having a talented roster, the Gamecocks have only managed to put up an offensive efficiency rating of 98.7, according to KenPom.
Transfer guard Meechie Johnson has begun to turn it around on the offensive end now that he seems healthy, but the Gamecocks will need him and other starters to step it up on the defensive end.
South Carolina is listed as +10.5 point underdogs tonight in their SEC opener, and I’ll be taking them as my best play for the game. The Commodores are 5-8 ATS and failed to cover the spread in their lone game as a favorite against a P5 school. Vanderbilt’s lack of rebounding and inability to force turnovers will keep the Gamecocks in the game since they will be able to get plenty of second-chance looks and not be decimated in the turnover battle.
Vanderbilt’s reliance on the three-point ball bodes well for South Carolina, as they have been able to hold opponents to a 34.9% shooting percentage from deep. The last time the Commodores played an athletic P5 team, they only managed to shoot 29% from three, and they were outrebounded by 12.
Vandy allowed 13 offensive rebounds in that game, and with South Carolina combining for 31 offensive rebounds in their past two games, the Gamecocks have a solid chance to stick around in this game.
South Carolina (+10.5)