The biggest concern for Vanderbilt all season long has been the point guard spot.
The Commodores have two pros on the wing in Jeff Taylor and John Jenkins. They have a first-round pick manning the paint in Festus Ezeli. Lance Goulbourne has been severely underrated this season at the four spot for the Commodores. The question mark has been Brad Tinsley at the point. Can he handle pressure? Can he be enough of a playmaker to get the talent that Kevin Stallings has stockpiled on this roster the ball in a position to be a threat?
And to his credit, Tinsley did his best to silence those critics on Tuesday night. While he missed the only shot he took from the floor in Vandy’s 77-67 win over No. 16 Florida, Tinsley finished the game with four assists and just a single turnover while playing the role of the primary ball-handler against an aggressive — albeit diminished without Will Yeguete — press thrown on by the Gators.
To be frank, I’m still not convinced Tinsley is a great collegiate point guard, but I do think that what he has done in his career has been overlooked and underrated. For the last two years, he’s been a knock-down three-point shooter and a solid fourth-scoring option while averaging more that four assists and posting a better-than 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Is he Chris Paul? No. But he’s probably not as bad as the reputation he’s garnered throughout his career.
And while this was a quality win for the ‘Dores, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the Gators were a tough out on Tuesday night. On the road against a team that was celebrating the senior night for 80% of their starting lineup, the Gators fought back from an early deficit to take a lead in the second half and they didn’t fold when Vandy answered with a spurt of their own.
Florida may not be a Final Four threat, but they do have the pieces to be a tough out in March.