Vanderbilt throttles St. John's to open Maui Invite

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LAHAINA, Hawaii — Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings knew his team was ready to compete. He just didn’t expect the 19th-ranked Commodores’ 92-55 victory over St. John’s on Monday in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

“I don’t think you ever anticipate a game like that,” he said after his team shot 53 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3-point range and outrebounded the Red Storm 49-26. “We had a lot of people play well and we shot the ball well.”

Jeff Roberson had 11 points and 13 rebounds for Vanderbilt, which opened the game with a 27-4 run.

The Commodores (4-0) will meet the winner of No. 13 Indiana-Wake Forest matchup in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Vanderbilt scored the game’s first nine points and it only got worse from there for the Red Storm (3-1), who lost for the first time under first-year coach Chris Mullin and nearly suffered the worst loss in school history.

Luke Kornet, one of Vanderbilt’s three 7-footers, had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Camron Justice added 11 points.

“Rebounding is a lot about mentality,” Kornet said. “I just tried to be as much of a physical presence as I could around the goal.”

Federico Mussini led the Red Storm with 14 points.

“You have to learn from a game like this and move on,” Mullin said. “It was their length that hurt us. That was the best team we played against. It’s about what happens from here. How do we come back from this? We’ll watch film tonight and come back tomorrow.”

Mullin was able to find one bright spot.

“We only had eight turnovers,” he said.

When the Commodores went up 30-5, they had made 10 of their first 18 shots from the field. St. John’s had made two of 18 in the same span.

The lead got as high as 48-15 with 3:39 to play in the first half, and the Commodores led 53-24 at the break.

The biggest lead was 41 points with 2:31 to play. Stallings had a chance to give players more minutes than normal.

“When we got the lead that was something we tried to do with three games in three days,” Stallings said.

Damian Jones, the Commodores’ second-leading scorer and rebounder, played 14 minutes and had five points and five rebounds.

“He’s the leader of our band,” Stallings said, “and if we want to do what we think we can in this tournament, he’ll be a big part of it.”

Depth was certainly an issue, with Vanderbilt’s subs outscoring St. John’s 26-0 in the first half.

St. John’s played without freshman guard Malik Ellison (foot) and junior college transfer forward Darien Williams (shoulder).

St. John’s: This is the Red Storm’s first appearance in the Maui Invitational. … St. John’s worst loss was to Kentucky, 81-40, on Dec. 17, 1951. The team beat the Wildcats later in the season to advance to the Final Four. … The Red Storm came back from a 16-point deficit in the second half to Rutgers in their last game.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores won the Maui Invitational in 1986 behind the play of center Will Perdue. They are making their fifth appearance in the Maui Invitational and they entered the game with an 8-4 record. … This was Vanderbilt’s second straight game against a school from Long Island. They beat Stony Brook in overtime last Thursday.

St. John’s: Loser of Indiana-Wake Forest game in Maui Invitational consolation round.

Vanderbilt: Winner of Indiana-Wake Forest game in Maui Invitational semifinals.