Vanderbilt’s defense backs up Bryant’s 3-point shot

SEC basketball analyst Josh Graziano has put together an intriguing column about Vanderbilt’s defense.

In his piece, Grazier details the team’s efforts to limit its opponent’s 3s and how that strategy pays dividends in a way that may help explain the Bulldogs’ resurgence.

Vanderbilt, which finished 15-3 and won its third consecutive SEC Tournament bid with a 63-54 win over Alabama on Saturday, is trying to get back on track following a rough stretch.

It has lost seven straight, including all of its last seven games, including two of the past three.

The Bulldogs (10-3, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) have allowed a league-worst 38.7 percent of its opponents’ field goal attempts, a number that is tops in the country.

Grazier says that was a result of a variety of factors, including the fact that Vanderbilt is one of the nation’s most efficient offenses.

He points to the fact the Bulldogs rank among the nation and SEC in scoring defense, allowing just 11.7 points per game on 41.8 percent shooting.

Vandernegut says the team also has been effective at defending the 3-pointer, where the Bulldogs have been among the leaders in the league.

Vandegas ranked fifth in the nation with 3.5 per game.

That unit is also the reason why the Bulldogs are allowing opponents to shoot 39.5 percent from the field and have allowed at least 100 points in seven of their last eight games.

“Vandergate is about taking the next step,” Graziem said.

“They are building a better defense than last year, and the offense has been good.

They have improved their 3-ball and their defense.”

The team has a lot of work to do, however, as it continues to deal with the loss of veteran guard Tyler Williams.

Williams, a senior from New York, has been out since the season opener with a foot injury.

He had been a big factor in the offense this season, averaging a career-high 11.4 points per contest.

He was a key part of the team that won three SEC titles, including last season.

Williams was the only player to average double figures for the year in scoring, averaging 18.4 ppg.

The junior guard averaged 9.5 points per games, but was held to 10.4.VANDEGAS has averaged 104.5 yards per game, the most in the SEC, but ranks 29th in 3-pointers made per game (19.9).

The Bulldogs are averaging just 8.4 assists per game and are tied for 29th with a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Graziem believes that will help the team take a step forward this season.

“I think the big thing is they are playing with a lot more energy,” he said.

“The guys are more focused on the task at hand.”

In fact, Vanderbilt’s offense has not struggled in recent weeks.

The Tigers have averaged a league high 5.9 assists per contest, which ranks ninth in the conference.

They are also averaging just 7.1 turnovers per game as well.

Vandy has not allowed a triple-double this season and has allowed just three such plays over its last eight contests.

Gries, who covers the University of Kentucky, said the Tigers have shown signs of being more dynamic than they were last season, including scoring more points and making fewer 3-balls.

“They have taken the strides they have made this season,” Gries said.

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