After taking two close losses, Vanderbilt (7-4) found a way to get the train back on the tracks as the Commodores knocked off UNC-Wilmington by the score of 88-73 on Saturday night.

Nesmith’s big night

Aaron Nesmith torched the Seahawks for 34, tying his career high set earlier this season at Richmond. Nesmith shot 9-of-16 from the floor and buried 7-of-10 from three. The SEC’s leading scorer was feeling it early on. When halftime rolled around, Nesmith already had hung a 20 spot on the visiting UNCW squad, propelling Vanderbilt to a 42-32 lead at the break.

Not even the frigid Nashville air could cool the sophomore down as he continued to knock down three long-range shots from beyond the arc in the second half. Nesmith improves his average to 23.5 ppg which is nearly four points clear of Arkansas’ Mason Jones, who is the closest ‘threat’ to Nesmith’s scoring throne.

Saben Lee finished with 14 points and six assists. Scottie Pippen Jr. scored nine points and had seven assists. Pippen Jr. continues to show flashes of ability along with a special ability to read the floor. Maxwell Evans and Jordan Wright each chipped in nine points while Dylan Disu had eight points but led the team in rebounds with nine.

“For us to be a good team we have to have more contributions from more guys,” said Stackhouse on getting production outside of Nesmith or Lee. “Thats what we need and that is how we have to play to be a good team.”

Small ball

Clevon Brown (knee) and Ejike Obinna (hamstring) were out of Jerry Stackhouse’s lineup putting Vanderbilt in a precarious position in the post. Injuries and lack of depth in the frontcourt forced Stackhouse to use unique lineups that did feature a true post player oftentimes.

Dylan Disu, a stretch four who thrives offensively from the outside, and 6-foot-6 freshman Jordan Wright were the best two options for Vanderbilt when it came to defending the painted area. Oton Jankovic played his first meaningful minutes in quite some time to bridge the gap while one or the other was taking a breather on the bench. The trio did well in holding down the fort and even found a way to win the battle of the boards and outrebounded the Seahawks 32-27.

“I heard it was a grade two, possibly grade three strain,” said Stackhouse on the extent of Brown’s knee injury. Stackhouse also said that Obinna could have played, but he wanted to be cautious with nine days until Vanderbilt laces up again.

Next up

Vanderbilt will look to build off this performance when they return from Christmas break. The ‘Dores are back in action on Jan. 30 when Davidson (5-5) comes to town. It will be the penultimate game in the nonconference portion of the schedule that has gone about as expected for the ‘Dores.
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