GAME NOTES: Both the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Auburn Tigers will attempt to rebound from tough losses earlier in the week when the SEC rivals square off at Auburn Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Vanderbilt battled back and forth with Missouri on Wednesday night but ultimately fell on the wrong end of a 67-64 decision for its third loss in the past four games. The Commodores' recent struggles have caused them to slip to 14-11 overall and 6-7 in the SEC, and they are just 2-6 on the road.
Auburn was in position to pull off a monumental upset at No. 2 Florida on Wednesday but were done in down the stretch by several miscues and came away with a 71-66 setback. The Tigers are also losers of three of four and are just 4-9 in league action, but the good news for this matchup is that the majority of their success has come at Auburn Arena (11-4).
In regards to the all-time series, Vanderbilt holds an 84-51 advantage over Auburn, which includes wins in eight straight meetings dating back to 2008.
In a game that consisted of 11 ties and 11 lead changes, Vanderbilt lost control of a late lead when Missouri ripped off a 13-2 run and could never recover down the stretch as it suffered the three-point defeat. It shot just 40 percent from the field, compared to 47.7 percent for Missouri. Damian Jones knocked down 9-of-14 from the field for 19 points to go with seven rebounds. James Siakam and Rod Odom netted 13 and 10 points, respectively, while Kyle Fuller handed out nine assists but finished a woeful 1-of-12 shooting from the floor.
The Commodores have been able to remain competitive this season thanks to their stellar defense, as they yield just 65.4 ppg on 40.4 percent field goal shooting, but unfortunately their offensive attack (.443, 66.5 ppg) has not done a great job in support. Odom pours in a team-best 14.5 ppg while doing most of his damage from beyond the arc (73-of-178, .410). Fuller (11.8 ppg) shoots less than 38 percent from the floor but helps make up for it with 4.5 apg, and Jones mans the paint with 11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 1.4 bpg.
The Tigers were in position to shake up things at the top of the national rankings by leading Florida with under a minute to play, but after falling behind on a Michael Frazier 3-pointer and committing a few fouls and turnovers down the stretch, their upset hopes were dashed. They still played extremely well on the road against one of the nation's best defenses, shooting 47.8 percent from the field, including 10-of-19 from 3-point range. Tahj Shamsid- Deen scored 17 points on 5-of-8 from long range, Chris Denson finished with 15 points and five assists and KT Harrell netted 14 points.
Scoring points has rarely been a problem for Auburn this season, as it shoots 45 percent from the field for 73.6 ppg, but it also owns the SEC's 12th-ranked scoring defense, yielding 72.0 ppg. Denson is the league's most prolific scorer with 20.6 ppg, but while he shoots 48.8 percent overall, he's just 26.5 percent from 3-point range and 65.9 percent at the foul line. Harrell is hot on Denson's heels with 19.0 ppg and has a team-best 53 3-pointers. Shamsid- Deen brings 9.7 ppg to the table and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum isn't much for scoring (5.3 rpg) but is solid in the paint with 5.9 rpg and 1.9 bpg.
Auburn may have fallen short against Florida earlier in the week, but it still showed plenty of promise in the loss, which should carry over in its return home versus Vanderbilt.
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