With one graceful layup halfway through Vanderbilt’s 92-51 drubbing of Alcorn State on Friday, Jeff Roberson became the 48th member of Vanderbilt’s 1,000-point club.
The senior joins teammates Riley LaChance and Matthew Fisher-Davis, making them the first Vanderbilt class to have all three seniors to score 1,000 since the 1970’s. Roberson decided to focus on the team after the game, downplaying the importance of the milestone.
“I only knew about the 1,000 point streak going into the game because my mom texted me about it, he said. “She knows the game very well.”
“She’s all over it,” LaChance added with a grin.
Head coach Bryce Drew emphasized how unusual it was to have an entire class make so many points.
“Usually you only have one main guy that scores 2,000,” Drew said, “and that really speaks to how close they are as a class. I think Matt and Riley were more happy than Jeff tonight when he got it.”
Although Alcorn State had the same 4-8 record, Vanderbilt went into the game expecting to win. Even so, the Braves had some skilled players on the floor. Reginal Johnson is a 250-pound center who can shoot, and A.J. Mosby is an excellent ball-handler, ranking 16th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio.
But, the Braves had not beaten any of the Division I teams on their schedule. The closest Alcorn State had come to an upset came in the second half against Big 12 foe Baylor. They scored 36 points on Baylor’s top-50 defense, but the Braves’ comeback never left the ground because Baylor proved too tough on offense. So in order to prevent a spoiler, all Vanderbilt had to do was continue scoring through the whole game, which they did.
When Riley LaChance hit two consecutives three pointers early, it became clear that Vanderbilt would not be repeating the slow start they had against Houston Baptist. Jeff Roberson piled on with two more three-pointers, including one converted into a four-point play after a foul shot, to make the score 12-0. The PA announcer even credited Roberson with the four-point play before the free-throw fell, which is understandable considering his .993 percentage from the line.
As a team, the Commodore offense took advantage of the opportunities they created on defense. They made eight steals and scored 16 of their points off turnovers. Fisher-Davis continued to dive after loose balls. Joe Toye limited the Braves offense early on with a steal and four rebounds, forcing Mosby to attempt three-pointers from way downtown. The tough defense continued into the second half, with Vanderbilt getting the same amount of steals.
“Our guys were really focused on the defensive end all 40 minutes,” Drew said.
The second half began on an unusual note when Roberson was given a flagrant foul for pulling on an opposing players jersey. However, the Commodores continued to pull away with the lead. Bench players started to filter in with ten minutes left. Ejike Obinna complied an impressive five rebounds, and freshman Maxwell Evans had another good performance.
Roberson, LaChance, and Drew all agreed that the two home games built confidence, but the real test of conference play lay ahead. Vanderbilt has been successful with a smaller lineup in the past two games, but Drew seemed to doubt how effective it would be game in and game out in the SEC.
“We’re going to face big bodies,” he said, “so we’re going to have to play big and small depending on the matchup.”
Vanderbilt will play Florida, their first conference opponent, at Gainesville next Saturday, December 30.