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MBB Game 1 Preview: Oregon at #7 Vanderbilt Commodores

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7:00 PT :: Memorial Gym :: Nashville, Tennessee
TV:  Fox Sports South :: ESPN 3
Pomeroy Rating : Oregon 73 :: Vanderbilt 9
Projected Starters:
Oregon         Vanderbilt      
C Tony Woods DNP 2010-11       C Steve Tciengang 4.8 3 0.4
F Olu Ashaolu 14.2 9.4 1.6   F Lance Goulbourne 6.9 7.3 1.3
F EJ Singler 11.7 5.6 1.7   F Jeffrey Taylor 14.7 5.5 2.4
G Jabari Brown Frosh       G John Jenkins 19.5 3 1.2
G Johnathan Loyd 4.7 1.9 2.3   G Brad Tinsley 10.6 3.7 4.6
Key Reserves:

Oregon         Vanderbilt      
F Jeremy Jacob 6.2 3.5 0.5   G Kyle Fuller 1.9 1.4 1.6
G Garrett Sim 8.2 2.3 1.8   F Rod Odom 3.9 2.6 0.6
F Tyrone Nared 5.1 3.9 0.4   F Shelby Moats Frosh    
F Carlos Emory Transfer       G Dai-Jon Parker Frosh    
G Brett Kingma Frosh       G Kendren Johnson Frosh  


Nationally relevant games are not something Oregon basketball fans have been used to.  This has been especially true in the non-conference, where last season's slaughter at the hands of Duke, and a trip to Maui a few years back, Oregon hasn't really been able to get any marquee games.  That will change in time with the opening of Matthew Knight Arena but, meanwhile, by happy accident, the Ducks head to Nashville to take on the #7 team in the land in what is one of the marquee games of college basketball's opening night.

Oregon is a trendy pick to return to the NCAA Tournament, and the talent that Altman brought in should make Oregon a major player in the Pac-12.  That said, with all roster turnover, its impossible to predict how the pieces will fit together early in the season.  A win in Nashville over a top ten team would make an early announcement that Oregon basketball is back.  It would also do so in a gym where Oregon suffered an absolute heartbreaker in their last trip 


The early season is going to be a work in progress for Oregon.  Exhibition games only tell us so much, and there isn't a lot from last season to fall back on in analyzing these Ducks.  Tony Woods looked very legit in the two exhibition games.  Jabari Brown had a horrible game one, and bounced back for a double-double in game two.  Olu Ashaolu should be able to make up for Joevan Catron's stats.  But putting up a century mark on lowly Lewis and Clark doesn't equate to playing Vanderbilt on the road.  Its question mark after question mark, and we won't have any great ideas until we get through a portion of these non-conference games.

Vanderbilt is a different story.  This is a team  with no question marks.  Expected to compete with Kentucky for the SEC crown, this team has one of the premier scorers in the country in John Jenkins (19.5 ppg), and an almost as elite wingman in Jeffrey Taylor (14.7).  Round that out with an excellent all around point guard in Brad Tinsley and a double double threat at power forward in Lance Goulbourne, and you see why Vandy has such high expectations.  And this is even before mentioning that Oregon catches a break in that 6'11" center Festus Ezeli (13.0 ppg) is suspended for this game.  Add in two top-100 freshmen to add depth on the bench, and the Commodores go down as one of the most complete teams in college hoops this season.  Ezeli, Jenkins, and Taylor could all be first round NBA draft picks.

There's the obvious question.  Even with an immensely talented Oregon squad will be crushed in the talent battle in this game.  Vandy will score points, and score a lot of them.  They play with amazing efficiency on offense, ranking 13th in the nation in adjusted efficiency last season.  They hit threes.  They finish at the basket.  They get to the line. They don't have to worry about off nights because they have five guys in the starting lineup capable of going for 20 on any given night.  Yet, there is one thing that, at least last season, they didn't do:  they don't play a lick of defense.

They ranked 9th in the SEC in defense last season.  While they ranked around the same as Oregon in defensive efficiency last season, much of Oregon's problems were a lack of height and quckness, and Oregon had even mitigated those by the second half of the season.  With Vanderbilt, its the opposite, in that the height covers up many of their inefficiencies.  They are among the worst in the country at creating turnovers.  They don't foul you a lot, but they man you up and challenge you to shoot, then use their big guys to clean up the boards.  With Ezeli out, it becomes Oregon, not Vanderbilt, that has the height advantage.  If history is to be a judge, Oregon will work harder than Vandy on defense.  Can they create turnovers, make enough of the shots that Vandy gives them, and get a fair amoutn of second chance opportunities with Ezeli out to keep up with the Vanderbilt offense.  Its been done before; Vandy didn't run away from anyone not named LSU last season, and ended up losing five games in which they had second half double digit leads.  They simply don't play enough defense to really put teams away.


Extra Possessions:  Oregon will be at a big offensive disadvantage this game.  To keep up with the Vanderbilt offense, they need to create more possessions for themselves.  They need turnovers in the press.  They need the second chance points.  Oregon needs to get more shots in this game than Vandy does.

Don't let Jenkins beat you:  Whoever is guarding John Jenkins has to have a great game.  If Jenkins goes for 30, Vandy wins.  Oregon has to hold him somewhere in the low teens, and make somebody else beat them.   Ezeli is gone.  Taylor is capable, but is maddeningly inconsistent.  Tinsley isn't asked to carry the team a lot.  Throw everything at Jenkins, and make it so that somebody else has to have a great game to beat you.  Vandy is so talented that they very well could, but its also your best shot.

Shoot 45%:  Can't have a shooting slump when you're playing one of the best offensive teams in the country.  You have to stay right with them.