NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two games in Vanderbilt has two wins. That is good.
Perhaps even better? Each win has come in a different fashion, the latest being a dogfight of a 71-66 victory over visiting Texas A&M Corpus Christ at Memorial Gymnasium on Monday.
“It’s going to definitely help us out in the long run when we’re in another close game,” Vanderbilt sophomore guard Aaron Nemith said. “It’s going to also help us not take anybody for granted.”
Nesmith rose up time and time again to pull his teammates along in a back-and-forth game. The South Carolina native scored 21 and is now averaging 23 points in the first two games of the year.
Back-to-back jumpers by Nesmith put Vandy up 59-54 with less than eight minutes to play and his two free throws with three ticks on the clock iced the game. The Commodores had trailed as late as nine minutes into the second half before fighting back for the victory.
“I thought tonight was obviously a hard-fought win,” Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “We came out with a team that was hot early, was able to hit some 3s, a team that’s got a lot of confidence and a team that played really hard. They have some older guys that really know how to play the game, know how to score the basketball, but in the end we did enough.
“We did enough defensively and we did enough offensively to get the win. We know we’re still a work in progress and there’s still things we have to clean up.”
Vanderbilt started the year with an 83-65 triumph over Southeast Missouri State, a game in which it trailed early in the second half before dominating the rest of the way. This one was in stark contrast.
Corpus Christi found itself down just 66-63 before Vandy freshman point guard Scotty Pippen drove through the right side of the defense and, becoming stuck under the goal, let his momentum carry him toward the baseline as he jumped and threw a long pass to Saben Lee.
Lee buried a left-wing 3 making it 69-63 and providing the dagger for the night.
Scotty Pippen to Saben Lee to virtually ice this one pic.twitter.com/VmaP8ctRs4
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) November 12, 2019
“Just executing the offense,” Pippen said of that play. “(Lee) was at the right spot he needed to be at for the play. Just letting the offense work. I knew when I jumped in the air he was going to be there, so I knew I could find him.”
The Commodores will look for a 3-0 start at 6 p.m. CT Thursday when they head to Richmond. To do that they’ll have to improve on numbers like 12 turnovers to just 10 assists, three less rebounds than the opponent and defending the 3 to the tune of 52 percent from the opposition.
But there’s a lot of time to correct those sort of things and a lot of confidence growing after a gritty win.
“We did some good things offensively. We were careless a little bit too. It was kind of 50-50 for me,” Stackhouse said. “We had some good opportunities in transition – (Nesmith) had one where he went behind the back. Those just aren’t plays we can do in transition. We have to get the ball into our point guard’s hands and let him run the show for us in those late-game situations.
“It’s good that it’s happening now. Those are things that we can learn from.”
• The Commodores have now made at least one 3 in 1,066 straight games.
• Vanderbilt freshman Dylan Disu made the first start of his career.
• Monday’s matchup was the first ever between Vandy and TAMU-CC.
• Lee now needs 221 points to reach 1,000 for his career.
• Attendance on Monday was announced as 8,300 giving Vanderbilt a two-game average of 8,198.