Vanderbilt and South Carolina each seek a three-game winning streak when they meet for both teams’ Southeastern Conference opener on Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn.
The Gamecocks (7-6) won both meetings last year. Since then, South Carolina fired coach Frank Martin and replaced him with Lamont Paris, who last year coached two hours from Nashville at Chattanooga.
Paris made quick headlines by convincing G.G. Jackson, the highest-rated recruit in the 2023 high school class, to decommit from North Carolina in favor of the Gamecocks and reclassify to 2022. Jackson leads the Gamecocks in scoring (17.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg), while tying the team lead with 10 steals and 13 blocks.
Furman transfer Hayden Brown (11.5), Chico Carter Jr. (11.3) and Meechie Johnson (11.0) join Jackson as double-digit scorers.
Jackson’s 24 points led South Carolina to a win over Eastern Michigan on Friday. He finished one rebound shy of a second-straight double-double. South Carolina withstood a 36-point effort from another formerly highly-touted prep star in EMU’s Emoni Bates.
“Obviously they’ve got some names and some guys who can make shots,” Paris said, “and it seems like the tit-for-tat matchup between Emoni Bates and G.G. Jackson came to fruition in front of our eyes.”
Vanderbilt (7-6) is coming off its highest point total of the season in a 93-55 dismantling of Southeastern Louisiana on Friday. Fourteen Commodores scored in a game that Vanderbilt led by at least 24 the entire second half.
“We liked the way the guys set the tone for us tonight,” Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse said. I thought our guys came out and got off to a good start. Offensively we were sharing the ball. Defensively we were really stingy and rebounded the ball well and got a chance to give a lot of guys some run tonight.”
Vanderbilt’s best player is center Liam Robbins, who leads the team in scoring (11.9), rebounding (5.8) and blocks (2.8). Myles Stute (11.5) has also been a headache to defend, shooting 47.1 percent from 3.
However, the Commodores need health from the rest of the supporting cast.
Jordan Wright (9.5 ppg) hasn’t been the player he was a year ago, thanks in part to back and hip injuries. But Wright has begun to look healthier, adding seven points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes vs. Southeastern Louisiana.
However, Vandy could have a health concern with guard Tyrin Lawrence (10.4), who scored seven points in the first half on Friday but sat out in street clothes in the second.
Stackhouse said he pulled Lawrence due to a calf strain, adding that he didn’t know how severe the injury was. However, Lawrence walked without aid after the game.
–Field Level Media