The Commodores (4-1) will hold their collective breath and hope Garland, one of college basketballs best freshmen, can return.
“Hopefully, we get some good news in the next 48 hours,” said Drew, while acknowledging he doesnt know if its a short-term or long-term injury.
“… We will obviously be careful with his injury. He obviously has a bright future in basketball, and we just want to make sure we give him the best care we can for him to figure out whats the plan of attack.”
Garland, a projected NBA first-round pick next summer, suffered the injury on a left-handed baseline layup. He exited only two minutes into the game, limped to the locker room and returned to the bench wearing a sweatsuit after halftime. During the second half, he could stand but could barely walk.
When asked if Drew had a sense about the severity of the injury, he said, “I dont want to speak out of context. Im not a doctor. (The team doctors) want to do a very thorough analysis of everything before they comment on what they think it is.”
Garland, a five-star prospect and former Brentwood Academy standout, is one of the gems of Vanderbilts best recruiting class in program history. He was the SEC Freshman of Week in his debut week. And on Monday, he scored 33 points, the second-most by a freshman in Vanderbilt history, in a win over Liberty.
If Garland is out for a few games, the hype around this season will merely take a short pause and then re-start once he returns. If he is out for most or all of the season, the 2018-19 campaign will take on a drastically different look.
“Obviously, our whole team knows hes the head of our team. Hes our leader in a lot of different ways,” Drew said. “When he goes fast, we go fast. When he slows down, we go slow.
“That (affects) morale, tempo, reliability. Again, hes got that special ability to make others better. Now weve got to find different ways to have guys step up if hes not there.”
Vanderbilts perimeter defense was poor, as Kent State (5-1) buried 8-of-11 3-pointers to start the game. And once Garland left, the offense struggled to find a direction.
“In the first half, guys were asking, Is he coming back? Is he coming back? ” Drew said. “But I thought in the second half, we played hard.”
Vanderbilt rallied from a 41-34 halftime deficit and briefly took the lead midway through the second half, but Kent State staved off the Commodores the rest of the way.
Vanderbilt made only 2-of-5 free throws in the final 2:38. Matt Ryan and Saben Lee each nailed a 3-pointer in the final 7.3 seconds, but Kent States made three straight foul shots to seal the outcome.
Simi Shittu led Vanderbilt with 20 points. Joe Toye had 15 points. Lee, Garlands primary replacement, had 13 points, five assists and six turnovers. Maxwell Evans also helped fill in for Garland, recording eight points and four rebounds in a season-high 21 minutes.
Vanderbilt will host Savannah State Tuesday (7 p.m., SEC Network Plus) and then play North Carolina State on Dec. 1 in Miami in the Hoophall Invitational.
Share Share Game Thread: Kent State Golden Flashes at Vanderbilt Commodores tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports Kent State Golden Flashes (4-1) at Vanderbilt Commodores (4-0) When: 4:00 PM CT, Friday, November 23, 2018
For all the excitement about Vanderbilts 2018-19 basketball season, its honestly hard to get up for the current slog of games. Today, at 4:00 PM CT on the day after Thanksgiving, Vanderbilt hosts Kent State. Kent State is 4-1, but has faced exactly one team inside the KenPom Top 300 — a home game against Liberty, which the Golden Flashes lost by a score of 77-70. Vanderbilt beat Liberty 79-70 the last time out, and the Commodores are 12.5-point favorites today.