NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Maxwell Evans exploded for a season-high 29 and Vanderbilt broke a six-game losing streak by flying past South Carolina 93-81 on Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium.
Evans’ outburst complemented Scotty Pippen Jr.’s 23 points and seven assists and Dylan Disu’s 17 points and seven rebounds as the Commodores (5-8, 1-6 SEC) led for all but 58 seconds of the contest. Vandy made 10 3s and shot 49 percent from the floor.
“With (Vanderbilt head) coach (Jerry Stackhouse) and the whole team, we put in a lot of work every day just getting better and going at each in practice so we knew one day this work was going to show in the game,” Evans said. “We just came out and played two great halves and came with the win.”
Vanderbilt now hits the road next week to start a two-game road trip starting with a visit to Texas A&M (8-7, 2-6 SEC) at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Vanderbilt started the evening on an 23-8 explosion thanks to 10 points from Disu. That lead grew to 30-13 on an Evans layup on a fast break with 12:20 still remaining in the first half.
South Carolina settled in and responded with a 14-0 run to get within 30-27 in less than four minutes. Evans stopped the bleeding with another triple making it 33-27.
Trae Hannibal’s layup had South Carolina down 33-31 at the 6:49 mark, but Vandy responded in a big way with a 19-6 onslaught to end the half. Pippen’s two-handed slam making it 50-35 followed by a hard foul sending him to the floor was just about the only moment the Commodore bench fell quiet during the first 20 minutes of the game.
Pippen and Disu accounted for 30 of Vanderbilt points in the first half while Evans had 11. The Dores shot 52.8 percent and drained seven 3s while recording 12 assists on 19 made buckets.
“I thought we came out with great energy on the defensive end and that led to us having some early opportunities in transition,” Stackhouse said. “I thought we really shared the ball, got into the paint, guys were sharing it, guys were catching it ready to shoot – but it all stemmed from how we started on the defensive end and how we rebounded. We knew that this team was a dangerous team as far as all the guys going to the boards.
“For us to come out and win the rebounding battle, that’s something that we’ve struggled with early on in the season and that let’s me know we’re improving there. Our defense is finishing off by getting the rebound and I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”
Evans continued right where he left in the second half – his layup at the start made it 54-37 and a left-side 3 gave Vandy a 57-38 lead. A few minutes later Jordan Wright joined the fun with a three-point play allowing the Commodores to enjoy a 62-45 advantage.
South Carolina tried to keep pace, but back-to-back triples from Evans and Issac McBride, respectively, pushed the margin back out to 20 at 72-52. The Gamecocks couldn’t get any closer than the final margin the rest of the way.
AJ Lawson led South Carolina (4-6, 2-4 SEC) with 21.
“The energy in the locker room right now is crazy,” Evans said. “The freshmen, the new guys, they come in and work hard every day so they deserve this just as much as I do.”
• Pippen, Disu, Evans, Wright and Ejike Obinna started Saturday’s game for Vanderbilt, the 10th different starting lineup for the Commodores in the 2020-21 season.
• Vanderbilt led Saturday’s game at halftime, its first halftime lead since leading Kentucky 40-33 through 20 minutes Jan. 5.
• The 52 points in the first half for Vanderbilt set a season high.
• Vandy improved to 4-1 this season when leading at halftime.
• Pippen is the only Commodore to have started all 13 games for Vandy this season.
• Pippen Jr. has scored at least 15 points in 11 straight games, the longest streak by a Vanderbilt player since John Jenkins in the 2011-12 season (19 straight). That is also the longest streak by any SEC player this season.
• Vanderbilt has now made at least four 3s in 28 consecutive games.
• Under Stackhouse, Vanderbilt is 11-3 when scoring at least 80 points.
• The Commodores are now 32-29 in the all-time series against South Carolina.
• The Commodores are now 5-3 on the weekend this season and 0-5 on weekdays.