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Vanderbilt's Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) looks for an opening as Kentucky's Immanuel Quickley defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, Jan 29, 2020. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Vanderbilt hunting for first SEC win

After a loss on Wednesday to Kentucky, Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball recorded its 25th straight loss to an SEC opponent. Between injuries, a new coach and a young team, the odds have been stacked against the Commodores. The 25th straight loss for the team puts the program in sole possession of the record after it was set 80 years ago.

Twenty of the last 25 losses came from former coach Bryce Drew, while the rest came from current coach Jerry Stackhouse. The record loss came to none other than basketball powerhouse, No. 13 Kentucky. The ‘Dores put together a tough game against the Wildcats, even having a seven-point lead at halftime. In the 71-62 loss, freshman  Dylan Disu had a double-double with 13 points with 11 rebounds for the Commodores and junior guard Saben Lee scored 21 points. The team shot 26% in the second half after hitting 52% in the first, which heavily contributed to the downfall in the second half.

Vanderbilt Basketball color announcer Tim Thompson said the team played a really good game Wednesday night against Kentucky, but because of a few mistakes their best basketball still wouldn’t have been enough.

Injuries:

For the past two years, the team has had crushing injuries that have taken their star players from the lineup. Last year, it was Darius Garland, a five-star recruit coming out high school who now plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers after one year of college basketball. Garland suffered a meniscus injury in his left knee in Nov. 2018.

This year, the injury bug struck again, taking down sophomore Aaron Nesmith with a stress fracture in his right foot in early January. Nesmith was leading the conference in scoring going into Jan. 11 game against Texas A&M.  The forward will finish his season averaging 23 ppg for his sophomore season.  Nesmith was projected to be a first-round draft pick in this year’s NBA draft. He has not announced if he will return to Vanderbilt for his junior season, or forgo his eligibility to declare for the draft.

Earlier in the season, the team also lost Clevon Brown in early December to a knee injury. Brown is a senior and was a starting forward for the team. Brown’s return should be looming, hopefully, able to aid his team that is barely treading water.

Thompson said the team has been resilient amongst the injuries and have continued to play hard each game. Thompson claimed the problem in his opinion is there is no margin for error due to the injuries and depth.

New Coach:

Last season’s woes have carried over with new head coach Jerry Stackhouse. He is a former NBA all-star and college standout at North Carolina. Previously, he served as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies following two seasons as head coach of the NBA G League’s Raptors 905.  The former player had his new team making great strides early in the season during non-conference play. However, once the injuries began to plague the team has struggled mightily.

The Commodores will have a chance to end their SEC drought as they host a struggling Florida team on Saturday. The Gators are coming off three straight losses.

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