There were no quick fixes for Vanderbilt when it came to dealing with DePaul’s patient approach to basketball.
A slight adjustment at a recent practice, though, was what paid huge dividends in the Commodores’ 67-54 victory on Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium.
Center A.J. Ogilvy made 13 of 15 free throws, including 12 of 13 in the second half, and scored a game-high 19 points as Vanderbilt overcame a one-point halftime deficit and improved to 6-1 on the season.
“When big kids shoot free throws it puts a lot of stress you,” DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. “If I was going to attack us, I’d attack the same way they did. They pounded the ball inside, and Ogilvy was equal to the task.”
It was the second straight exemplary performance at the foul line for the 6-foot-11 junior. He made 11 of 12 earlier in the week in a victory over Missouri after having hit on just 12 of 22 in the previous five contests.
At the start of the week coach Kevin Stallings said he noticed a flaw in the positioning of Ogilvy’s feet, which he felt put the career 73 percent shooter out of balance.
“It’s helped out a lot,” Ogilvy said. “I don’t know whether I’m going to credit it all to that or just shooting it better.”
Ogilvy started a 13-2 run that put the Commodores ahead to stay with four straight free throws. He added a layup in that stretch, which concluded with a Brad Tinsley 3-pointer.
As a team VU was 20-for-30 from the line.
DePaul (5-2), on the other hand, came into the contest having made 55.6 percent of its foul shots for the season – and got worse. The Blue Demons made just one of five in the second half and five of 14 for the game.
“Obviously our free throw soothing has been horrible all year,” Wainwright said. “It’s not bad. It’s horrible.”
Where his team has excelled, though, has been in its ability to control tempo. Only one of DePaul’s first six opponents scored as many as 60 points – and that was in a game that extended to overtime.
The Commodores attempted to push the pace early but did not shoot the ball well enough, particularly 3-pointers (3-for-13) to maintain any real offensive momentum. Thus, the contest eventually settled into a half-court matchup of man-to-man defenses and one-on-one battles.
Vanderbilt scored just two points in transition, and that was when Jeffery Taylor stole the ball and threw down a powerful dunk with 31 seconds to play.
“Our press wasn’t giving us much, and we just didn’t feel like we had anything to go to to speed the game up,” Stallings said. “We were trying to get the game sped up but they’re pretty good at what they do. They don’t turn the ball over much. We just had to grind it.
“I don’t know. Maybe if I was a better coach, we could have gotten the game faster, but we didn’t. We just couldn’t get it going the way we wanted to.”
At least he’s good enough to have gotten Ogilvy going at the foul line.
• Vanderbilt freshman John Jenkins hobbled out of Memorial Gymasium on crutches, with ice on both his left knee and ankle. Before he left, he cried on the shoulder of his mother and talked with team trainer.
Official word from the VU training staff was that both joints were bruised as a result of getting stepped on during the game. His status was considered day-to-day.
Jenkins had seven points (the most by any VU reserve) in 15 minutes against DePaul.
• The announced attendance was 14,016 – a few hundred below capacity. There was a significant number of empty seats throughout the arena, though, a fact which did not escape the notice of Stallings.
“I was a little disappointed,” Stallings said. “This was a pretty convenient start time (3 p.m.). We must have had lot of people who wanted to watch a football game. I didn’t realize we had that many Alabama fans in Nashville.”