The game opened in an unpleasant manner. Georgia Southern came into Memorial Gym and in the first five minutes could not miss a shot. They started the game with a 9-1 run and held led 16-8 six minutes into the game before the alarm sounded and Vanderbilt turned up the defensive intensity.
By David Vorhaus
Within a two-minute span the Commodores tied the game at 16 forcing a time out called by Georgia Southern.
The Vanderbilt defense took over. The Commodores outscored the Eagles 41-20 in the remainder of the half to take a commanding 57-36 lead into the locker room.
This assault was led by point guard Russell Lakey who had a career high scoring night scoring all of his 15 points in the first half, while connecting on 4-7 three point attempts including 3 in a row. Russell also added 8 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds and did not have a turnover in the game. Adding power to Russell’s pretty outside shots was Brian Thornton. As coach Stallings said after the game, “I knew Brian could do what he wanted down low”. The Eagles had no answer. Brian had 11 points by the half and finished with 18 for the game. He also snagged 9 rebounds for the Dores.
Matt Freije scored in bunches and ended up with 22 for the game. In fact, Vanderbilt dominated down low as Jullian Terrell scored 10 and grabbed 8 boards. David Przybyszewski had 7 points, at least 2 rebounds and a couple of blocked shots.
The second half saw every player play. Even Martin Schnediltz added a bucket late. Vandy extended its lead throughout the second half with the biggest lead of the night coming at the final Buzzer.
The key again tonight was defense. After not missing their first several shots, Georgia Southern ended up shooting less than 40% from the floor for the night, including a stretch during the last five minutes when Vanderbilt played all the freshmen and walk-ons Geoff Peck and Matt Carter. Vandy shot 62% for the night. The biggest obstacle Vandy faced was at the charity strip. Vanderbilt shot a woeful 12 of 25, including missing numerous front ends of one-and-ones.
The Commodores had only 15 turnovers for the game and racked up 24 assists.
Other players stats of note:
Mario Moore 2 points, Jason Holwerda 7 points (but played excellent defense), Adam Payton 1 point, Scott Hundley 5 points, and Corey Smith had 7 points.
Vanderbilt moves their record to 3-0 and faces top ten team Connecticut on Sunday night in a nationally televised game.