December 21, 2017 / 2:19 AM / in 5 months

Preview: Houston Baptist at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt showed it could hang with a top-10 school in a 12-point loss to No. 4 Arizona State on Sunday, but there still is plenty for the Commodores to improve on entering Wednesday’s non-conference home game against Houston Baptist. Vanderbilt has dropped three in a row and seven of its first 10 games this season, and with just two games remaining before the SEC schedule starts Dec. 30 at Florida, the Commodores need to get better fast.

Vanderbilt could not sustain a hot start against the Sun Devils, seeing a 13-0 game-opening run evaporate as the Commodores only hit 4-of-31 attempts from 3-point range. “We have to make 3s,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew told reporters afterward, as the Commodores -– who led the SEC in 3-point shooting a season ago — have hit just 28.5 percent of their attempts this year. That is a big reason why Vanderbilt is scoring just 68.2 points per game, ranking 298th out of 351 Division I teams. Houston Baptist has the opposite problem, ranking 329th in scoring defense in allowing 84.4 points per contest.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network Plus

ABOUT HOUSTON BAPTIST (4-8): Playing without leading scorer Josh Ibarra, the Huskies shot just 28 percent from the field in a 107-62 blowout loss at No. 2 Michigan State on Monday. Ibarra, who injured his foot in a Dec. 9 loss to Texas-San Antonio, is averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jalon Gates came off the bench to score 17 points for the Huskies against Michigan State.

ABOUT VANDERBILT (3-7): Freshman Saben Lee has been a bright spot at times for the Commodores, scoring 24 points against Arizona State and posting two games of 19-plus points in the past three contests. Jeff Roberson leads Vanderbilt in scoring (13.5 points per game) and rebounding (8.6 per contest). But offense has been a struggle both inside and the outside the arc, as the Commodores are shooting 39.4 percent from the field.

TIP-INS

1. Roberson is 15th in the country in free-throw shooting at 93 percent and his five double-doubles ranks 22nd nationally.

2. Vanderbilt has played four of its first 10 games against ranked opponents, the most for the Commodores in non-conference play since 1988.

3. The Huskies are tops nationally in offensive rebounds per game (16.5) and 60th in scoring offense (81.8 points).

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 78, Houston Baptist 71

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