STARKVILLE, Miss. — The 3s made the headlines. The effort and execution were the causes for celebrations.
“I’m excited to get back home and watch this film and get ready for our film session Monday,” Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “I thought we had 35 or 36 minutes or high energy and focus and you see the result.”
Stackhouse watched his team virtually dominate all 40 minutes Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi, en route to a 72-51 victory at Mississippi State. It made 13 3s, won the battle of the boards 36-27 and held the Bulldogs to only three offensive rebounds.
It all equated to the program’s biggest SEC win since beating Texas A&M by 25 on March 9, 2017.
“As soon as we picked up our defense I just felt like we played tougher and harder than them,” Vanderbilt sophomore guard Scotty Pippen Jr. said.
Pippen set the tone for the Dores early and often Saturday. He scored 16 of his 18 in the first half finished with nine assists, three steals and three rebounds.
Vandy avenged an 84-81 loss to Mississippi State on Jan. 9 at Memorial Gymnasium.
“This was just a huge win for us, man,” Stackhouse said. “With all the noise that was going around, our guys just came in and locked in and kept their foot to the metal of what we’re trying to build and what we’re trying to do. I’m super proud of that, super proud of their effort on the defensive boards against a team like that.
“Holding that team to three offensive rebounds with the size that they have was just unbelievable. Then we shared the ball on offense and did everything we needed to do to make sure we that put enough points on the board.”
Vanderbilt (6-10, 2-8 SEC) began the game down 2-0 and then 13-12 at the 15:26 mark. But then Jordan Wright sank the team’s fourth 3 in the first 5+ minutes and the Commodores were off and running.
Myles Stute came off the bench to make a triple putting Vandy ahead 25-17, Dylan Disu splashed a 3 at the 3:48 mark making it 36-28 and Brown’s layup with 10 seconds to play completed a 17-0 run pushing the score to 45-28.
The Bulldogs (11-11, 5-8 SEC) were able to get within 12 less than 20 seconds into the second half – but never got any closer.
Vanderbilt had more points in the paint (22-18), more assists (16) and steals (13) than their opponent.
“Today we came out and played defense much better than what we’d done the last couple games,” Pippen said. “We got a bunch of deflections, a bunch of steals and that just led to a bunch of easy offense. That carried on to the second half. It started with our bigs rebounding and boxing out.”
Stackhouse’s team now turns its focus to Kentucky, a rival it also lost to by three points earlier this season (77-74 in Lexington, Kentucky). Vanderbilt has dropped nine in a row to the Wildcats dating to its last win in 2016.
But breaking that streak would mean the start of a different kind of streak for the Commodores.
“We’re growing. Our team is coming together at the right time,” Stackhouse said. “We were hoping we wouldn’t be in the hole that we are in but we’re just going to continue to fight our way out of it. I think this is a huge confidence-builder against a really good team.”
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.