Three Keys: Vanderbilt vs. Georgia

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

The Commodores return home for the first time in three games when they take on the Georgia Bulldogs at Memorial Gym on Wednesday night. After a laugher last time out in Starkville the 'Dores are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since late January. Here are three keys which will determine the outcome of the game.

1) Stop Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

It has been said before in these pieces, but sometimes the most obvious keys to the game get overlooked. When anyone enters Memorial Gym averaging over 17 points and 6 boards per game at a 45 percent shooting clip then the first order of business HAS to be shutting him down. Caldwell-Pope is the second leading scorer in the SEC, and his production has helped the Bulldogs take 7 of their last 11 contests.

Both teams are guard dominated, and Vandy will have to find a way to defend the 6-foot-5 shooter without fouling. The sophomore is one of those players who is good at just about everything as he also ranks second in the country in steals (58) as well as being a solid three point shooter and a dribble drive threat. Look to see if Kevin Stallings tries to defend with an athletic forward (Kevin Bright), a tall guard (Dai-Jon Parker), or a mixture of the two in order to limit the effectiveness of Caldwell-Pope.

2) Force young guards into mistakes

One of the big advantages the 'Dores have in any home game is the uniqueness of the court. As the only gym which does not allow the coaches to prowl the sidelines the setting can be very intimidating for veteran ball handlers, let alone underclassmen. The Bulldogs run a large amount of their sets through freshman Charles Mann and it will be interesting to see if their third leading scorer is thrown off by the surroundings he will find himself in. Pressuring the ball will lead to mistakes and to fast break opportunities for the 'Dores.

3) Forget about Saturday's win

Though the win against Mississippi State will go down as one of the most one sided in Commodore history, the truth is that it is much more of a reflection of the state of the Bulldogs program than anything else. A 72-31 win is about as decisive as it gets in college basketball, but it has to be pointed out that Mississippi State is historically bad at this point in time. The combination of injuries, defections, and suspensions, means that the 'Dogs are running with just eight active players on the roster, and that plus the stoutness of the Vandy defense led to their worst scoring output in the shot clock era.

Basically, Vandy should be proud to hold an opponent to 17.5 percent from the field but it should be put out of mind as an achievement until the end of the season as this improving young team has much more work left to do.

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