Combined 0-15 in SEC, Missouri, Vanderbilt aim to escape cellar

Jan 27, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Jerry Stackhouse reacts after a Tennessee Volunteers turnover during the first half at Memorial Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The only two Southeastern Conference teams without a league victory meet when Missouri travels to Nashville to face Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Missouri (8-13, 0-8 SEC) hasn’t won since posting a 92-59 victory over Central Arkansas in its final nonconference contest.

The host Commodores have lost 12 of their past 14 and have earned just two wins this season over teams ranked inside the top 300 (No. 133 UNC Greensboro, No. 299 USC Upstate) in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.

On Wednesday, Vanderbilt (5-15, 0-7) suffered its most lopsided defeat this season, 81-54 at Auburn.

The Commodores shot 28.2 percent on two-pointers and connected on 23.5 percent of 3-pointers, continuing a recent trend of subpar offense. Vanderbilt has scored 70 points just once in conference play, in a 78-75 loss to Alabama on Jan. 6 in its SEC opener.

“It was probably like a 10-minute stretch there where we got looks at the basket,” coach Jerry Stackhouse said after the Auburn game. “It just didn’t go in for us. … So that’s just kind of snowballed from there.”

Vanderbilt’s best two players are guards Ezra Manjon (14.6 ppg) and Tyrin Lawrence (14.2).

Manjon is in the midst of a five-game stretch in which he’s failed to surpass his scoring average.

Lawrence has been better, averaging 15.6 points over his past five, but is just 4 of 19 on 3-pointers in those games.

Missouri ranks last in the SEC in Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency (115.5 points per 100 possessions) in league games. Three league foes have tallied at least 90 points against Missouri, the latest coming when Arkansas knocked off the Tigers, 91-84, in Columbia on Wednesday in a game the Razorbacks led 47-28 at half.

“We came out flat to begin the game,” Missouri coach Dennis Gates said. “I take full responsibility as a head coach.”

A bright spot has been guard Tamar Bates (13.8 ppg), who’s averaged 24.3 points over his past four games. Bates, an Indiana transfer, scored in double figures in just two of his first 10 games, but has hit double digits in all 11 games since.

Point guard Sean East II leads Missouri in scoring (16.0), assists (4.1) and minutes (33.5) per game as well as 3-point percentage (46.4).

– Field Level Media

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