The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt Commodores drop season opener for first time since 2016, lose to Memphis, 76-67

Vanderbilt never led on Monday night as they allowed Memphis to score 18 points off turnovers.
PG+Ezra+Manjon+guarding+Memphis+Kendric+Davis+on+the+court%2C+as+captured+on+Nov.+7%2C+2022.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FNikita+Rohila%29
Nikita Rohila
PG Ezra Manjon guarding Memphis’ Kendric Davis on the court, as captured on Nov. 7, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila)

For the first time since 2016, the Vanderbilt Commodores lost their first game of the season. The Commodores were silenced by the Penny Hardaway-led Memphis Tigers, 76-67 on Monday, Nov. 7, night. 

We played a really good team. We wanted to do that and measure ourselves against them,” head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. Our first unit needs to set the tone, and I don’t think they did that tonight.

The Commodores got off to a lethargic start in their season opener, scoring just 6 points in the first 11 minutes of play. With 8:34 left in the first half, Vanderbilt trailed Memphis 19-6, but fifth-year senior Emmanuel Ansong cut into the Commodore deficit by converting on a fast-break opportunity with a much-needed dunk. Ansong, who played for 17 minutes, was the first Commodore to come off the bench on Monday night. The New Jersey native exited the game with an injury with just under six minutes remaining in the second half.

I think them [Memphis] playing with the lead, they were comfortable for most of the game,” Stackhouse said. “We didn’t really put that single-digit pressure on them that can change the game for you.

After Ansong’s forceful dunk, the Commodores were unable to find any significant momentum. Vanderbilt and Memphis exchanged points the rest of the half as the Commodores were unable to capitalize on any open-look shot opportunities. The Tigers nursed their 12-point lead for the rest of the half and led Vanderbilt 34-22 at halftime. 

Vanderbilt’s offensive showing in the first half was underwhelming in every regard, as the Commodores shot a putrid 30% from the field and 14.3% from beyond the arc. Beyond shooting struggles, the Commodores were manhandled by Memphis in the paint: Vanderbilt had 13 first-half rebounds compared to Memphis’s 27.

We didn’t rebound the ball. I thought that was key. We didn’t go hit them and keep them off the boards.” Stackhouse said.

Coming out of the locker room, Vanderbilt looked to climb out of their deficit and pull off a thrilling come-from-behind victory. Unfortunately for the Commodores, Memphis kept their foot on the gas and led Vanderbilt 55-38 with 10:43 left in the second half. Trailing the Tigers by 17 points, Trey Thomas and Malik Dia brought the energy back to Memorial Gymnasium, knocking in a trio of 3-pointers to go on a 9-0 run and put the game at 55-47 with 7:06 left in the game.

Following Vanderbilt’s quick spurt of momentum, Memphis got back on track and went on a 12-2 run to silence the noise of all Commodore fans in the building. With nearly three minutes remaining, Myles Stute knocked down his fourth 3-pointer of the game, but it was too late for the Commodores to muster up a comeback. The Commodores outscored the Tigers 45-42 in the second half but it was not enough.

Vanderbilt felt the effect of losing star guard Scotty Pippen Jr. on Monday night, who led the Commodores to their best season since 2017 last year. Junior guard Tyrin Lawrence led the night for the Commodores with just 14 points.

“They played hard, they played long, and they crashed the boards,” Jordan Wright said about Memphis. “We have to go back to the drawing board and get a little bit tougher.

The Commodores will return to the hardwood this Friday when they will host the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Memorial Gymnasium at 6 p.m. CST. Vanderbilt last clashed with the Golden Eagles in 2010. The Commodores won by a convincing 36-point margin on that day.

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About the Contributors
Andrew Wilf
Andrew Wilf, Former Sports Editor
Andrew Wilf (’24) is Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He is from Livingston, N.J., and is majoring in history and minoring in business. He joined the sports staff his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Assistant Sports Editor and Deputy Sports Editor. Beyond writing for The Hustler, he is also the host of Anchor Analysis, Commodore Clash and Live From West End. In his free time, Andrew enjoys watching the NFL and playing golf. He can be reached at [email protected].
Nikita Rohila
Nikita Rohila, Senior Staff Photographer
Nikita Rohila ('25) is from a small town in Arkansas and is majoring in psychology and medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Deputy Social Media Director. During her free time, she enjoys roaming around the city and getting cinematic-style shots for her photography account! You can reach her at [email protected].
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