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Vanderbilt feels confident after near-upset, faces Dartmouth

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Vanderbilt hopes to snap a four-game losing streak when it hosts Dartmouth on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

The Commodores (4-8) come off their best performance of the season in a 77-75 loss at then-No. 23 Memphis on Dec. 23.

Ezra Manjon led Vanderbilt with 22 points but front-rimmed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Commodores lost for the seventh time in eight games.

“We were just a shot away,” Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “We did everything we needed to do to give ourselves a chance, and we got it right there at the end.”

With Manjon (15.9 ppg) and Tyrin Lawrence (12.0), the Commodores figured to be backcourt-oriented this year, but not to this degree.

Vanderbilt lost leading rebounder Colin Smith (7.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg) for the season two weeks ago with an Achilles injury. Against Memphis, the Commodores had forward Ven-Allen Lubin (10.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) available for nine minutes in the first half before he sat out the second with a nagging groin injury.

Vanderbilt has struggled defensively, ranking 236th in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency, but should have an easier time with Dartmouth (347th in adjusted offensive efficiency).

The Big Green (4-8) haven’t played with a full roster in December as their four leading scorers have all missed time this month.

Its top two scorers — Dusan Neskovic (16.8 ppg) and Brandon Mitchell-Day (10.9) — combined for 33 points in a 67-57 loss to Sacred Heart on Dec. 21. Mitchell-Day missed four games and Neskovic five earlier in the month.

“We still have to put 40 minutes together,” Dartmouth coach David McLaughlin said afterward. “We’ve been a little injury-plagued lately and so when we transition guys back, that’s always a factor… in how you’re going to play on both ends of the floor.”

Senior Jaren Johnson (7.6 ppg) also returned from injury but tallied just three points against Sacred Heart. The Big Green were without Jayden Williams (9.3) in that one.

It’s Dartmouth’s first game against an SEC opponent since facing Vanderbilt in 1988.

–Field Level Media

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