The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt battles Boston College hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak

Vanderbilt may finally have a healthy roster but will need all hands on deck to defeat Boston College.
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The Commodores will take on Boston College on Nov. 29. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

After two frustrating losses in the Vegas Showdown, the struggling Vanderbilt Commodores (3-3) have an opportunity to right the ship against a formidable Boston College squad (4-2) on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Following a 4-0 start, the Eagles have lost two straight, but head to Nashville as favorites. Entering the game, the Commodores and Eagles rank 150th and 118th in KenPom rankings, respectively. Although it’s early in the season, this game has significant implications for the Commodores amid its rather easy nonconference schedule. 

The biggest question heading into this game is which players will be available for Vanderbilt. Star guard Ezra Manjon has been sidelined by an ankle injury and sophomore forward Colin Smith is dealing with a concussion. Hopefully, Vanderbilt will enjoy its first game with all of its best players, but only time will tell. If Manjon and Smith can join Ven-Allen Lubin, Evan Taylor and Tyrin Lawrence, Vanderbilt has the potential to be dangerous and get back in the win column.

Heading into the season, Vanderbilt’s lack of size was expected to be its Achilles heel, and the first six games have reaffirmed this shortcoming. To make matters worse, the Commodores’ biggest player, sophomore Lee Dort, has been suspended from the team indefinitely following his arrest on Nov. 26. Head coach Jerry Stackhouse will now have to rely on freshman Carter Lang and the transfer Lubin to man the paint. The two undersized centers face an Eagles team led by Quinten Post, a seven-foot center who averages over 20 points per game. As much of the Eagles’ offense runs through Post, Lang and particularly Lubin need to stay out of foul trouble to prevent an even bigger matchup nightmare. On the other hand, Lubin’s favorable speed-size combination may open doors for the Florida native on the offensive end. Either way, the Vanderbilt bigs must contain Post to avoid a third consecutive loss. 

As for the Boston College backcourt, the Eagles rely on Prince Aligbe, Jaeden Zackery and Claudell Harris Jr. for the bulk of their production. These three guards combine for an average of 40 points per game, more than half of the Eagles’ average points. As a whole, BC won’t burn you with 3-point shooting — a breath of fresh air for Vanderbilt after the Arizona State game. However, the Commodore guards must be aware of Harris Jr. at all times as he has emerged as the hot hand for the backcourt. Harris Jr. is 100% from the free-throw line and 31.3% behind the arc. As a team that tries to build their identity around defense, the Black and Gold will have their hands full on Wednesday. 

On the other side of the ball, Vanderbilt needs to establish some level of rhythm. The Commodores generally execute an offense with slow tempo and many 3-point shots, but the team has struggled from behind the arc thus far, shooting under 30%. Unfortunately, with the current state of the roster, the undersized frontcourt is unlikely to score points, so the Commodores will count on Lawrence and Manjon (if healthy), their two leading scorers so far this season. Both guards have shown an impressive ability to get to the rim and free-throw line. On Wednesday, these two downhill scorers can put pressure on the Eagles by drawing fouls from Post. To complement the rim-attacking guards, Stackhouse has found success in Taylor, a senior guard who has shown promise from mid-range. Taylor is coming off a stellar performance against Arizona St. where he scored 25 points. With a sub-par frontcourt, the Commodores will need significant contributions from Taylor, Manjon and Lawrence to keep up with the Eagles. 

Last season, Vanderbilt struggled in nonconference play and it tarnished its tournament hopes. Currently at 3-3, Vanderbilt is behind the eight ball, but a win against this ACC foe can get the Commodores back on track. To say this game is a must-win would be a hyperbole, but a fourth nonconference loss would suggest that this team is far from NCAA tournament quality. If the starters can get healthy and the shooters get hot, the Eagles may see an improved Vanderbilt team. Vanderbilt and Boston College will both look to get back in the win column at 8:15 p.m. CST on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

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About the Contributor
Zach Philip, Staff Writer
Zach Philip (‘26) is majoring in computer science and economics in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of school, he enjoys watching golf and football (go Jaguars!). He can be reached at [email protected].
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