Youthful Commodores overwhelm Illinois-Springfield, 82-63

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Freshman guard Riley LaChance tallied 24 points and fellow freshman Shelton Mitchell added 21 points, nine rebounds, and five assists on Thursday night to lead the Commodores to an 82-63 exhibition game victory over Illinois-Springfield at Memorial Gym.

The game with the Prairie Stars was the first of two exhibition games for the Commodores.

“It was a lot of what I expected. There was a lot of good tonight,” said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. “I’m happy with our guards. There was some good play and some bad play. That’s what you get in these types of games. It would not have surprised me if this game went down to the wire. You never know what you’re going to get when you put these young kids out there for the first time. We did a great job of taking care of the ball. We thought there would be turnovers, but then you see we had 18 assists and four turnovers, which means we took good care of the ball.”

Damian JonesLaChance and Mitchell helped the all-freshman Commodore backcourt to a cumulative total of 51 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, and only one turnover in a game that Vanderbilt never trailed. As a team, Vanderbilt only committed four turnovers on the night.

“I wasn’t necessarily eager to shoot, I was just trying to be aggressive,” said LaChance. “I know that if I try to be aggressive, that opens up some lanes. It really all started with Shelton and our point guards pushing the ball down the floor. They push it really well and got me open shots. I had the easy part– they make great plays for me, they set great screens for me. We executed solidly on offense.”

“Shelton Mitchell was the star of the game,” said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. “It’s amazing how fun offense is when you have good point guard play.

“Go find another freshman in the country that [could put up the stats he did]. He did all of it on 12 shots. He’s very steady. I like the pace he plays at because he can play fast and stay under control. That’s a gift. I think he and Wade [Baldwin] have the ability to play fast and control the ball.”

Vanderbilt used the fast, controlled style of play to open up the game on a 17-0 run in the opening seven minutes of the game. The Prairie Stars never got any closer than 14 the rest of the way.

For the night, Vanderbilt shot 50% from the floor and 46.2% from three. LaChance was 9-14 from the floor and 6-9 from three, while Mitchell converted on eight of his 12 shots from the floor. Damian Jones ended his night 6-11 from the field and with 12 points. Defensively, the Commodores held Illinois-Springfield to a 36.5% clip and only 23.8% from three. Jamall Millison led all Prairie Star players with 17 points.

“I don’t like to just score,” said Mitchell. “I like passing more than I like scoring, and definitely rebounding just because if I get the rebound I can push it faster and I don’t have to worry about it being given to me.”

Vanderbilt returns to action in another exhibition game this Tuesday night against Sewanee. The game tips at 7 p.m. at Memorial Gym.