Christina Foggie can relate — in a lot of ways.
In fact, it is almost as if she is looking in a mirror. When she watches John Jenkins play, she sees a similar style, a similar shooter, a similar scorer.
“It is not too much different,” Foggie said. “We get a lot of the same attention, like a lot of pressure, especially because we are 3-point shooters. We both had to work on attacking this year. We’re kind of similar, actually. It is weird.”
There is nothing odd or strange about where the Vanderbilt guards find themselves — on top of the Southeastern Conference scoring charts. The 3-point specialists are about to complete the rare SEC scoring title sweep.
Entering last week’s SEC women’s tournament, Foggie averaged a league-best 17.9 points. Heading into the regular-season finale at Tennessee last Saturday and the SEC tournament in New Orleans this weekend, Jenkins averaged an SEC-high 20.1 points.
This marks just the fourth time the same school has had the leading scorer in men’s and women’s basketball. Seimone Augustus and Glen Davis of LSU did it most recently, in 2006.
Having the conference’s top scorer doesn’t always equate to winning. In many ways, it makes it tougher.
“I feel like I’ve seen everything in the book,” said Jenkins, who is gunning for his second straight scoring title.
Just once in the past 20 seasons has the SEC men’s regular-season champion featured the league’s leading scorer. There is a little more frequency on the women’s side. It has happened five times since 1993.
Both Vanderbilt teams grasp the difficulty of the double.
Foggie and the VU women finished seventh in a balanced SEC. Despite the one-two punch of Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor, the league’s second-leading scorer, the Vanderbilt men were battling Florida for sole possession of second place right down to the final regular-season contest. Top-ranked and regular-season champ Kentucky was well ahead of the pack.
“Obviously, defenses key on me,” Foggie said. “So I think it is just a change in focus throughout the season. You can’t stay the same player, I don’t think, throughout the season and expect to score the same ways.”
After averaging 9.9 points as a freshman, Foggie has shown what she can do with a clean bill of health.
In December 2011, during a game at Bowling Green, she suffered a huge scare when she ran into a screen and hit her head hard against an opponents’ shoulder, resulting in a concussion. She had to be carted off the court and stayed over night at a Bowling Green, Ohio, hospital as a precautionary measure. She returned only to suffer another concussion in practice and experienced symptoms of post-concussion syndrome.
“There is always doubt when you have a very traumatic injury like that ... when to come back, when you should come back,” Foggie said.
The 5-foot-9 guard from Mount Laurel, N.J., quickly got back up to speed in the summer. Recruited for her perimeter shooting, she added dribble penetration, a pull-up jumper and defense to her arsenal for this season. As a result, she has had 11 20-point games, is second on the team in steals and captured the Vanderbilt women’s first SEC scoring title since Wendy Scholtens won three straight from 1989-91.
“She became a scorer,” Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. “She didn’t just shoot the 3. When teams got to know her and took the 3 away, she was still able to score other ways.”
With his ability to release a shot in less than a second, Jenkins also is hard to stymie on the outside. The Hendersonville native has scored in double figures in 63 consecutive games and made a 3-pointer in 50 straight.
“I certainly admire his shooting ability, because it really is special,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.
Jenkins also developed several dimensions within his game in the summer. His time spent on Team USA for the World University Games aided his development on defense, which Stallings said has drastically improved. He also decided to put the ball on the floor more, which has forced teams to guard him differently and has put him on the free-throw line more.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Jenkins said. “I’ve tried to eliminate all the bad shots, because it just turns into making me look stupid, really, to be honest. I see that the ball goes in more when I shoot good shots. It took me a while to understand that, but now I do.”
It’s a safe bet that Foggie does too.