NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt put together its most-complete performance of the young season Friday by routing South Carolina State.
The Commodores had six players score in double figures and racked up 19 assists en route to a 97-60 victory inside Memorial Gymnasium. What made first-year Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse the happiest? His squad’s ability recognize what was going wrong and change it.
“All the guys understand when we’re in pick-and-roll coverages there are certain things that need to happen on the weak side,” Stackhouse said. “For whatever reason we weren’t engaged and it cost us.
“We have a system of things and how they’re supposed to go and most of the time when we don’t do those things, bad things happen. For that stretch those things happened. But then we cleaned it up and we seized control again.”
South Carolina State (2-3) had closed the gap to 52-42 with just less than 15 minutes to play. The Bulldogs wouldn’t sniff a single-digit deficit from there.
Vandy closed the contest on a 45-18 run. It scored from inside and out, won the rebounding battle and once again dominated the paint. Senior center Clevon Brown ended up with a career-high 19 points and freshman forward Dylan Disu had a double-double of 11 rebounds and 10 points.
“The guards were just finding me on the roll,” Brown said. “I was working the roll, they were passing me the ball and trusting me to finish it.
“They’re really good at seeing the floor, seeing the open man and getting him the ball.”
Freshman guard Scotty Pippen had eight assists and junior guard Saben Lee dished out six helpers. Lee also scored 12 to go along with seven rebounds while Pippen netted 13.
One of the nation’s leading scorers, Vandy sophomore Aaron Nesmith, had a quiet 20 in what truly turned out to be a team-win.
“I thought they really came out and set the tone early. Just really competed all over the floor. On the defensive end got after it,” Stackhouse said. “Had a little bit of a let down (in the second half), but I think its natural, just human nature when you have a big lead that you’re going to have a little bit of a let down.
“But I thought we really regrouped and the guys shared the ball and defended the way that we liked.”
The Commodores only trailed after the first bucket of the game. They took a 7-4 lead on a Disu 3 at the 16:34 mark of the first half and never trailed again.
A 21-point advantage at the break slowly melted away early in the second as SCSU started the period on a 16-5 run. Six points from Brown in a 90-second span reset momentum and Vandy was off and running again.
Of course, there will be points of emphasis over the weekend before Vanderbilt hosts Southeastern Louisiana (2-3) at 7 p.m. Monday in the team’s final game before a holiday break. The Dores were 15 of 28 from the line and 12 of the team’s 20 bench points came courtesy of Lee.
But those are things a team can live with, especially after a 37-point win on a Friday night.
“Proud the guys. Proud of the way they shared the ball,” Stackhouse said. “And we defended a lot better for 40 minutes than we did last game. It was a good night.”
• Vanderbilt has now made at least one 3 in 1,068 straight games.
• The Commodores have also made at least eight 3s in every game this season.
• Before Friday, Vanderbilt had faced South Carolina State only other time – a Vandy win, 65-60, on Nov. 17, 2000.
• Lee now needs 165 points for 1,000 in his Vanderbilt career.
• Nesmith has now made at least one 3 in 27 straight games.
• Vanderbilt senior center Clevon Brown needs three blocks to pass Chris Woods (108) for the seventh-most blocks in a Vanderbilt career. Julian Terrell is sixth with 116.
• Attendance on Friday was 8,725 giving Vanderbilt an average of 8,463 fans per game after four home games so far this season.