Dropping Anchor in Hawaii

Vandy opens Hawaii tournament against Rainbow Warriors

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The word aloha was needed for the Commodores over the weekend.

Aloha to a trip this week Hawai’i and aloha to a three-game losing streak.

“We’re real confident – we lost our last three games, but we got this past week to work on individual stuff as well as team stuff,” Vanderbilt junior guard Scotty Pippen Jr. said Saturday. “Getting this win gives us a lot of momentum so we should feel real confident going to Hawai’i.”

Vandy’s 77-51 triumph over visiting Austin Peay put the Dores back in the win column. Head coach Jerry Stackhouse switched up the starting lineup for the first time in 10 games, and senior guard Rodney Chatman made his season debut after missing nine games with an injury.

Eleven different Dores scored in the win and Quentin Millora-Brown had a double-double of 14 rebounds and 13 points. It was a return to form for a Vanderbilt squad that had averaged 66 points during the three-game skid.

“I really do think we have a team that’s capable of maybe having six guys that could average eight points,” Stackhouse said. “I think the way we play, if we share it, we could do something special like that. I’m continuing to encourage them that if we can defend the way we did (Saturday), get the rebound, we’re going to get more opportunities for guys to get some looks.”

Vanderbilt arrived in Hawai’i on Sunday ahead of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic to be played at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. The Commodores, part of an eight-team field, are scheduled to play host Hawaii at 11 p.m. Wednesday and will then meet BYU or South Florida at 9 p.m. CT or 11 p.m. CT Thursday.

The Commodores will be off Friday before concluding the tournament Saturday. Every game will be televised by ESPN2 or ESPNU.

“It’s going to be fun. I’ve never been out there,” Vanderbilt junior guard Jordan Wright said last week about the trip. “I know some of the guys haven’t been out there and also our families are going, too, so it’s going to be good spending Christmas with them and enjoying Hawai’i and good weather.”

Of Hawaii’s four wins this season, two are against Division I competition. The Rainbow Warriors last played Dec. 8 when they defeated Hawaii Pacific 88-52.

Barnardo da Silva (15.3 ppg) leads five Hawaii players that average double figures in scoring. The sophomore forward also pulls down eight rebounds per game.

Hawai’i is one of the nation’s top teams in rebound margin (8.9).

Vanderbilt hosted Hawai’i in 1987 and won 91-62. The two programs met again in 1990 on the campus of Stanford University where the Commodores prevailed 74-70.

Here is a closer look at the rest of the field this week in Hawaii:

Brigham Young (9-2)

BYU was ranked 12th and 6-0 before an overtime loss at Utah Valley to start the month of December. The Cougars’ only other blemish is an 83-71 setback against Creighton in a game played in South Dakota.

Alex Barcello is scoring 19.7 points per game and shooting 50 percent from 3 for a team that holds the opposition to less than 27 percent shooting from behind the arc.

The only meeting between Vanderbilt and BYU came in 1958 in Nashville where the Commodores won 89-56.

Liberty (7-4)

The Flames rank as one of the tops tams nationally in field goal percentage defense and scoring defense. They also make a shade less then 10 3-pointers per game.

Liberty recovered from a three-game losing streak to LSU, Iona and Manhattan in November, and has gone 6-1 since.

Vanderbilt beat Liberty in 2001 and 2018 before dropping a 61-56 contest in Memorial Gymnasium in 2019.

Northern Iowa (4-5)

Northern Iowa lands in Hawaii on a modest two-game winning streak. The Panthers also have a road win over a ranked St. Bonaventure team in November.

AJ Green is scoring nearly 19 points per game for Northern Iowa which is one of the tops teams in the nation at avoiding being called for fouls.

Vanderbilt and Northern Iowa have never met before.

South Florida (4-5)

The Bulls allow just 57.4 points per game and are holding opponents to 37.2 percent shooting from the field. Caleb Murphy is the lone South Florida player averaging double figures in scoring at 13 points per game.

Having lost 3 of 4 coming in, the Bulls have yet to win away from home this season.

Vandy is 2-1 against South Florida with wins coming in 2008 and 1983 in Nashville and a loss occurring in 1985 in Clemson, South Carolina.

Stanford (6-4)

Stanford has notched all six of its wins this season at home while going 0-3 on the road and losing one neutral-court matchup. The Cardinals lost 60-53 to Texas on Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Harrison Ingram and Jaiden Delaire are each scoring at least 12 points per game for Stanford which collects 12.5 offensive rebounds per game.

Vandy has gone 0-3 against Stanford losing in Nashville in 1954 and 1988 and at Stanford in the 2015 NIT.

Wyoming (9-1)

Led by Graham Ike’s 19.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, the Cowboys have just once once in 10 outings – a 94-65 setback at Arizona on Dec. 8.

Wyoming shoots the ball at a 48.7 percent clip and turns it over less than 10 times per game.

Vanderbilt last faced Wyoming on Dec. 17, 1958 in Nashville and won 70-65.

• Pippen ranks 48th on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list with 1,014 career points. Austin Bates is 47th with 1,020 and Sam Howard is 46th with 1,042.

• The Commodores have now made at least two 3s in 49 straight games.

Trey Thomas has played in 35 straight games for the Commodores.

• Wright has started 25 straight games for Vanderbilt.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.