Preview: Vanderbilt vs. Memphis

Dec. 27, 2016

Teams: Vanderbilt (10-2) vs. Memphis (6-6)
Day, Date: Wednesday, Dec. 28
Tip-off time: 4 p.m. (CT)
Site: Memphis, Tenn.
Radio: WNSR 560 AM / 95.9 FM
Game Notes: VU Game Notes (Memphis) Get Acrobat Reader

Returning to action after the holiday break, the Commodores (10-2) are set for their final test of the non-conference schedule on Wednesday, as they make the 200-mile trip to Memphis to face the Tigers (6-6). It will be 15th all-time meeting between the in-state rivals, but the first since Dec. 1, 2004. Vanderbilt has won the last eight match-ups against the Tigers and owns an 11-3 lead in the series. Here’s a closer look at Wednesday’s game.

l Update on the Commodores: Vanderbilt comes into Wednesday’s game with hopes of bouncing back from a 78-66 loss to No. 8-ranked Louisville on Dec. 21 — a defeat that ended the Commodores’ nine-game winning streak. … Vanderbilt has been strong on the road this season, having won four straight games away from Memorial Gym (including three “true” road games and one neutral-site victory). The Commodores’ only road loss this season came on their first road trip of the season, when they visited Bloomington, Ind., and fell to the nationally-ranked Hoosiers on Nov. 13. … Having adapted quickly to head coach Stephanie White’s up-tempo style, Vanderbilt is averaging 75.7 points per game — compared to 62.5 ppg last season. The Commodores are also making an SEC-best 7.8 three-pointers per game, compared to just 5.4 last season. … The Commodores have three players averaging in double figures, with Rachel Bell scoring a team-high 12.8 points per game, Christa Reed averaging 11.8 and Rebekah Dahlman at 10.1. … Marqu’es Webb is Vanderbilt’s top rebounder, and ranks among the SEC’s best, with 8.8 boards per game. … Vanderbilt has played just two games in the past 17 days — a stretch that dates back to Dec. 9 and has included a break for final exams and the holidays. … The Commodores are 10-0 this season when scoring 70 points or more.

l What’s trending: Here’s a look at what’s trending for Vanderbilt through the first 12 games of the season: The Commodores lead the SEC and rank sixth in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 41.2 percent: Vanderbilt is second in the SEC and 21st in the nation in free throw percentage (77.2). … VU ranks fifth in the conference and 48th in the nation in scoring, averaging 75.7 points per game. … Vanderbilt leads the SEC in 3-pointers made per game (7.8) and total 3-pointers made (94). … VU ranks third in the SEC and 10th in the country in free throws made (200). … For the season, Vanderbilt has converted 200 free throws, which is almost as many free throws as their opponents have attempted (202). … (Note: Conference and national rankings in “What’s trending” are through Monday afternoon).

l In elite company: The Commodores have a host of players who rank among the best in the SEC and in the nation in several categories: Redshirt junior guard Rebekah Dahlman leads the SEC and ranks 21st in the country in free throw percentage at 89.5 percent. … Senior post player Marqu’es Webb ranks sixth in the conference in rebounding at 8.8 per game. … Freshman Cierra Walker ranks ninth in the conference in assists at 3.7 per game. … Walker and Dahlman rank seventh and eighth, respectively, in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.20 and 2.07.

l Scouting Memphis: The Tigers, members of the American Athletic Conference, come into Wednesday’s game on a three-game winning streak that has included victories over SE Missouri, Louisiana Tech and Nicholls. All three wins came at home. … Memphis comes into the game averaging 10.1 steals per game, which ranked 25th in nation as of Monday. The Tigers are forcing 18.8 turnovers per game, which ranks 40th in the country. … The `player to watch’ for the Tigers is Cheyenne Creighton, who leads the team in both scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg). … Memphis has played one other SEC team this season, falling to Arkansas 91-61 on Nov. 25.

l Series History: Wednesday’s game is the 15th all-time meeting between the teams, with Vanderbilt owning an 11-3 lead in the series. The Commodores have won the past eight match-ups against the Tigers. … The most recent game between the teams was Dec. 1, 2004, when Commodores posted a 96-54 victory at Memorial Gym. … Vanderbilt has visited Memphis six times, and has posted a 3-3 record. … Wednesday’s game will represent Vanderbilt’s first visit to Memphis since Dec. 11, 2003, when the Commodores rolled to a 73-49 victory. … The Tigers’ most recent victory over Vanderbilt was a 93-74 win on Feb. 21, 1987.

l Stronger as they go: Through the first two months of the season, the Commodores have shown that they get stronger and sharper as the game progresses. The fourth quarter, in fact, is statistically Vanderbilt’s best quarter in terms of scoring (20.4), field-goal percentage (46.8) and rebounding margin. Most impressive, the `Dores are shooting 53.1 percent from 3-point range in the fourth quarter this season.

l Super substitutions: The Commodores are getting plenty of production off the bench thus far this season. That was especially true during a three-game stretch from Dec. 5-18, when the Vanderbilt reserves outscored the opponents’ bench by a combined total of 103-43 (including 30-4 against ETSU, 23-4 against Tulane and 50-35 against Tennessee Tech). For the season, VU’s bench has outscored the opponents’ bench in nine of the first 12 games..

l On the radar: The Commodores have been among the teams receiving votes in the Associated Press Top-25 poll in each of the past three weeks. It is the first time since the preseason poll of the 2015-16 season that Vanderbilt has been in the “receiving votes” category. Vanderbilt was last ranked in the AP poll in Week 15 of the 2013-14 season, when the Commodores were ranked No. 16.

l December dominance: Vanderbilt has been thriving in December for the past several seasons, and has posted a 30-4 record in December since 2011. … Prior to the loss to Louisville, the Commodores had won 13 straight December games, which dated back to a loss to Dayton on Dec. 21, 2014..

l Fresh and Re-Fresh: Vanderbilt has captured SEC Freshman of the Week honors twice this month, with Erin Whalen and Kayla Overbeck each winning the honor. Overbeck was given the award on Dec. 13 after scoring 18 points and pulling down 13 rebounds — establishing new career highs in both categories — during Vanderbilt’s 80-72 road win over ETSU. Overbeck went 8-of-9 from the foul line in the win and logged 29 minutes of playing time while notching her first career double-double. Whalen was named the SEC Freshman of the Week the previous week after averaging 17 points per game and shooting 59 percent from the floor — making 16-of-27 shots — during Vanderbilt’s wins over Air Force, SIUE and Tulane.

l Milestone for Marqu’es Senior post player Marqu’es Webb notched her 500th career rebound in the first quarter of Vanderbilt’s win against Air Force on Dec. 2. … Webb ranks seventh among active SEC players in career rebounds with 545.

l Last time out: Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen, the ACC player of the year last season and preseason pick to repeat, scored 24 points and had a career-high 15 rebounds to help No. 8-ranked Louisville hold off Vanderbilt 78-66 on Dec. 21, 2016 at Memorial Gym. Rachel Bell scored 21 points for Vanderbilt (10-2), which saw its nine-game winning streak end. Cierra Walker added 12 points, and LeaLea Carter and Kayla Overbeck each had 10. Walker opened the fourth with a 3-pointer that pulled Vanderbilt within 58-56. But Hines-Allen scored the next five points as Louisville (12-2) finally got some breathing room against the Commodores. Louisville pushed the lead to double digits on a layup by Durr with 44 seconds left. Bell scored eight straight points, including the first seven of the third quarter, to pull Vanderbilt within 48-45. Sydney Zambrotta hit a 3-pointer for Louisville’s first bucket of the quarter with 7:24 to go to pad the lead. Louisville led 58-53 after an ugly third quarter when the teams combined to hit just 8 of 34 shots.

l This and that: Vanderbilt has three players who rank among the SEC’s Top-10 in career 3-pointers among active players: Rebekah Dahlman ranks seventh with 116, Christa Reed ranks ninth with 90, and Rachel Bell is 10th with 88. … The Commodores finished November with a 5-1 record, marking the first time since 2011 that Vanderbilt emerged from November with less than two losses. … The Commodores made 14 3-pointers against Kennesaw State in the season opener (finishing 14-of-26), which represents the most 3-pointers by an SEC team in a game this season.

l Looking ahead: After Wednesday’s game, the Commodores jump into SEC play, visiting Texas A&M on Jan. 2.