Vanderbilt was able to close the decade out on a high note defeating Davidson by a score of 76-71.
Despite being 12 days removed from their last game, Vanderbilt (9-4) showed no signs of a Christmas hangover as the Commodores were able to jump on Davidson early. Vandy created separation in part, due to a 12-0 Commodore run to stretch out to a 29-16 lead with under five minutes to play in the first half.
What makes this run even more impressive was the fact that it did not include Vanderbilt’s offensive catalyst and the SEC’s leading scorer, Aaron Nesmith. In fact, Nesmith did not find his way into the box score until the 3:37 mark in the opening 20 minutes.
“If we want to be successful down the road that’s how we are going to have to play,” said Nesmith following the game. “It takes five people to win a basketball game.”
Vanderbilt carried a 44-27 lead into halftime behind Saben Lee’s eight points while Max Evans and Nesmith, who was able to heat up in a hurry, each tallied seven points at the break. Vandy went to the locker room shooting an impressive 68 percent from the floor including 6-of-10 from the three-point line.
Vanderbilt did not make a field goal for the final 13 minutes of the contest, going 0-for-13 from the field. Give Davidson credit for a tenacious effort on the defensive end, but Vandy seemed to have been caught thinking about possible New Years Eve plans when there was still quite a bit of time left on the clock.
Davidson fought back in the second half and eventually cut Vandy’s lead to 72-66 with just under a minute to play, but it was not enough to complete the comeback.
The second half performance is something that Stackhouse and his team will most likely want to leave in 2019.
Scottie Pippen Jr. led the Commodores in scoring with 18 points, doing most of his damage from the foul line by converting on 12-of-16 at the stripe. Nesmith finished with 17 points followed by his partner in crime, Lee, who added 11 points.
Nesmith and Lee in double figures for the 12th consecutive game.
After starting slowly, Nesmith has 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
— Vanderbilt Notes (@VandyNotes) December 31, 2019
Dylan Disu notched his second double-double of his freshman campaign by dropping 10 points and hauling in 10 rebounds. Disu has played a big role since Vanderbilt’s leading rebounder, Clevon Brown, has been out with a knee injury.
In a way, the win against Davidson can be seen as a microcosm to how the decade unraveled for the Vanderbilt basketball program.
Vandy started off the 2010s with three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances under the leadership of Kevin Stallings. The program reached its pinnacle in 2012 when Vanderbilt was able to win the 2012 SEC Tournament over a previously undefeated Kentucky team that went on to win the national title.
After failing to qualify for the postseason in three consecutive seasons, it was following the 2015-2016 loss in the First Four that Vanderbilt decided to move in a different direction.
Stallings was out and Vandy fans received a breath of fresh air in the form of a young and spunky head coach – Bryce Drew.
Drew was able to take the ‘Dores to the Big Dance in his first year at the helm although the team ended up getting bounced in the first round.
The two seasons following were without a doubt rock bottom. Drew posted a wretched 21-43 record over his last two years on West End. In his final season, Drew led the team last year to an abysmal 9-23 record including an 0-18 showing in the SEC.
A once-packed Memorial Gym had lost its magic, where, on most nights, it was difficult to even fill the student section.
However, just like the victory against Davidson on Monday night, Vanderbilt has seemingly righted the ship. On April 5, 2019, Vandy made a deal with Jerry Stackhouse — the third Vanderbilt basketball coach in five years — and one that Commodore nation is hoping will be the last one for quite some time.
Vandy will kick off the new year in Memorial Gymnasium as SMU (9-2) travels to the Nashville for a Saturday night matchup that tips off at 7pm.