Halftime breakdown: Cougars having their way with Vandy

I gotta say, that first half hardly could have gone better for the Cougs. Let's revisit my keys to the game and see how they're shaping up so far:

  1. Cougs’ perimeter defense against Vandy’s 3-point shooting: As we suspected, all those wide-open looks at the basket from long range that Vandy got against GW are nowhere to be found against the Cougars. The Commodores have gotten exactly one clean look from 3, and that represents their only make from beyond the arc. Holding the Commodores to 1-for-8 from 3-point range is a major reason the Cougars lead at the half.
  2. Tempo, tempo, tempo: Holding a team that scores 76 points per game to just 25 points at halftime is a major victory. The Cougars have absolutely imposed their will on Vanderbilt, completely controlling the pace and rendering the Commodores a half-court offensive team.
  3. 25-plus minutes for Aron Baynes: At halftime, Baynes has 13 minutes. So far, so good, as the big Aussie has helped the Cougars control the paint. Although they trail the Commodores in rebounding, 13-11, that's mostly due to the long rebounds caused by Vandy's missed jump shots. Baynes has four points on just two shots, but he's completely played iwthin himself.
So, how will the second half shake out? Well, I think it either will get very tight in a hurry, or it will become a blowout in WSU's favor. Why? Look for Vandy to try and get some better shots much earlier in its offense. They'll realize that they just can't win a half-court game, and that they're going to have to push the tempo and take the first decent look they get. If those shots fall, this game gets interesting. If they don't, the Cougs run away with it.

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