GAME NOTES: The Northeastern Huskies and the Vanderbilt Commodores will close out their respective non-conference schedules on Saturday night when they square off at Memorial Gymnasium.
Just a year removed from a 20-win campaign and a regular-season Colonial Athletic Association title, Northeastern has floundered to start 2013-14, winning just three of its 13 games, including all four on the road. The Huskies' 70-66 loss at home to Richmond on New Year's Eve was their eighth setback in the last nine game.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt has played well through the first two months of the season, getting out to a 7-4 start. This matchup marks the last of a five-game homestand for the Commodores, and while they opened it with three straight wins, they weren't so lucky the last time out, as they dropped a 57-49 decision to Saint Louis on Monday night.
The Huskies and the Commodores have never before faced one another in men's basketball.
Northeastern trailed Richmond by as many as 13 points midway through the second half, but while it managed to climb all the way back to tie the game with 2:07 left on a pair of Marco Banegas-Flores, it could never overtake the lead. It shot a solid 44.4 percent from the field and helped its cause with a 22-of-27 showing at the free-throw line, but it ultimately couldn't keep pace with the hot-shooting Spiders, who made 55.1 percent of their field goal tries. Scott Eatherton shined in spite of defeat, tallying 22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Demetrius Pollard scored 19 points, while Banegas- Flores finished with eight points and six assists.
On the season, the Huskies have been a modest scoring club at best, as they shoot 44.6 percent from the field for 66.7 ppg while struggling both from the free-throw line (.639) and beyond the arc (.304). Eatherton is one of the CAA's most dependable forwards, posting 17.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 1.9 bpg, all while shooting nearly 58 percent from the field. David Walker brings 11.5 ppg and 3.1 apg to the table, while Spencer adds 9.8 ppg and 7.2 rpg.
Vanderbilt had the misfortune of facing a stout defensive squad in Saint Louis the last time out, which resulted in its worst offensive output of the season. It shot less than 34 percent from the field (including 3-of-17 from 3-point range) on its way to a season-low 49 points. Damian Jones was the lone player to finish in double figures, pouring in 12 points on 5-of-11 from the field.
While the Commodores are usually much more impressive in terms of scoring on the season, they are far from potent, as they boast moderate percentages from the field (.453) and 3-point range (.321) for 70.1 ppg. Their defense, on the other hand, allows them to remain competitive in most games, allowing just 68.0 ppg on 41.1 percent field goal shooting, although their -3.5 turnover margin has proven costly at times. Eric McClellan nets 14.3 ppg to lead the way, while Rod Odom (12.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Jones (9.7 ppg) and Kyle Fuller (9.5 ppg, 3.8 apg) are also regular contributors.
With Northeastern showing very little promise, especially on the road, expect the Commodores to bounce back from their latest loss and end their homestand on a high note.
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