NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sometimes, not all wins are indeed equal.
“The best part of the night, to me, was walking in that locker room – because that’s not a happy team right now,” Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “That let’s you know that the standard is high. We’re starting to set the standard and know that we didn’t have the performance that we feel that we’re capable of, especially on the defensive end early in the first half.
“Then in the second half they junked the game up a little bit, got us sped up a little bit and had a few turnovers – but for the most part I thought we made a enough plays.”
Stackhouse’s team improved to 5-1 on Monday thanks to a 78-70 win over visiting Southeastern Louisiana. But the Commodores only led by four with less than 4 1/2 minutes to play and by just five with 3:45 remaining.
Vandy was out-rebounded 42-40, gave up 15 second-chance points and was outscored 42-24 on points in the paint.
“We did enough defensively to hold off to win. I think our guys would be the first to tell you it wasn’t our best game,” Stackhouse said. “We allowed too many offensive rebounds, too many second-chance points and could have been a little sharper on the offensive end as well.
“But you’re going to have nights like that where you’re not going to shoot the ball well and score the ball well.”
The Commodores, who next host Tulsa at 7 p.m. Saturday, finished with a 41.8 percent shooting clip from the floor. They also missed 19 3s and nine free throws.
Still, Vanderbilt saw five score in double figures – led by junior guard Maxwell Evans – and junior guard Saben Lee nearly registered a triple-double with 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Evans said a win like Monday’s can only help in the long run, despite the sour feelings in the locker room after the victory.
“It shows us, when we come back (Tuesday), what we need to work on when different teams give us different looks so I think it’s all good,” he said.
Vandy trailed 10-3 less than four minutes into the game and for most of the first half until an Aaron Nesmith 3 made it 30-29 at the 2:08 mark. Lee put the doors in front going into the locker room with a triple of his own that made it 33-31.
Nesmith, averaging nearly 26 points per game coming into the contest, was held to 14.
Southeastern then refused to go away in the second half. Even after the Commodores scored eight straight in a 44-second span to take a 48-42 lead with 13:56 to go, the Lions (2-5) fought back to stay within five with 3:45 on the clock.
Fortunately for Vanderbilt, Evans stepped up by matching his career high and freshman Dylan Disu chipped in 11 thanks, in part, to three made 3s.
“Everybody is on scouting reports now,” Stackhouse said. “You can’t hide long. We’re going to need other guys to step up. Tonight it was (Disu). Tonight it was (Evans). Other nights it’s going to be somebody else whether it’s Clevon (Brown) or (Ejike Obinna) – all those guys are playing valuable minutes to contribute to the win.”
Vanderbilt’s schedule now enters a tough stretch of three more home games against high-quality teams in Tulsa, Buffalo and Liberty, respectively. And Stackhouse and his team know they’ll have to be better in those contests.
But until then it can be disappointed in the execution while taking solace in the outcome.
“At the end of the day it’s in that left-hand column,” Stackhouse said. “So we’ll take it.”
• Vanderbilt is now 3-0 all-time against Southeastern Louisiana having previously won Dec. 18, 2010 and Nov. 22, 2002.
• The Commodores have made at least one 3 in 1,070 straight games.
• Vandy has made at least eight 3s in every game this season.
• Lee now needs 153 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 Wednesday was 8,589 giving Vanderbilt an average of 8,488 over five home games so far this season.