Shortly after suffering their first league loss of the season against the SEC’s top team, Vanderbilt’s players were already prepared to put that experience behind them.
The 18th-ranked Commodores look to get back on track while trying for a 16th consecutive home victory Wednesday night when they face SEC West Division leader Mississippi State.
Riding a 10-game winning streak and coming off a nine-point victory at then-No. 14 Tennessee three days earlier, Vanderbilt (16-4, 5-1) fell back to earth with an 85-72 loss at former No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday.
Vanderbilt shot 47.8 percent, but allowed Kentucky to make 12 of 23 3-point attempts, hold a 41-22 rebounding advantage and score 20 second-chance points.
“We are disappointed in a number of things from our side, but we’ll bounce back and get it back where we want it,” said coach Kevin Stallings, whose squad is one-half game behind first-place Kentucky in the SEC East.
Back home after playing four of their previous five on the road, the Commodores appeared ready for their next challenge moments after their previous one ended.
“We will try to put this loss behind us and move on to our next game,” guard Jermaine Beal said after scoring a team-high 19 points against the Wildcats. “We were ready for a tough game, and we will be ready for another tough game. This is the SEC so we expect each game to be a challenge.”
The Commodores, who haven’t lost at home in more than a year, have won two in a row against Mississippi State (16-5, 4-2) in Nashville. The home team has also won the last five games in the series.
At home this season, Vanderbilt is averaging 85.2 points on 53.3 percent shooting while going 10-0, including conference wins over Florida and Auburn.
Though star center A.J. Oglivy had 12 points on just 2 of 4 shooting against the Wildcats, he’s averaging 20.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in two league home games. The 6-foot-11 junior had 16 points in Vanderbilt’s 86-85 overtime victory over Mississippi State in the teams’ last meeting in Nashville on March 5, 2008.
Beal is averaging a team-leading 14.0 points on the season, and 19.3 on 52.6 percent shooting in his last three games overall.
Though Mississippi State is looking to avoid a third straight conference road loss, the Bulldogs have won four consecutive games and won nine of 10 against the SEC East.
The Bulldogs avoided a third straight defeat with a 67-51 win over LSU on Saturday. Ravern Johnson scored 15 points and Tennessee native Jarvis Varnado added 11 with 10 rebounds as Mississippi State opened with a 10-2 run and never looked back.
“We knew we had to win this game because it is big for the next two weeks,” guard Barry Stewart said of the Bulldogs, who face Florida on Saturday and rival Mississippi on Feb. 11.
Johnson, averaging a team-leading 14.0 points this season, had 18 in the Bulldogs’ 73-66 win over Vanderbilt on Jan. 17, 2009.
The Bulldogs’ lone SEC road win of 2009-10 came 80-75 at then-No. 14 Mississippi on Jan. 9.