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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 edges out 84-79 overtime victory over South Carolina, open SEC play 1-0

The Commodores overcame deficits to start both halves and scored 63 points off the bench led by Ezra Manjon and Liam Robbins.
Jordan+Wright+shoots+over+South+Carolinas+GG+Jackson+on+January+3%2C+2023+at+Memorial+Gymnasium+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Jordan Wright shoots over South Carolina’s GG Jackson on January 3, 2023 at Memorial Gymnasium (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Vanderbilt (8-6) opened SEC play on Tuesday with an 84-79 overtime victory over South Carolina (7-7). The Commodores were led in scoring by senior Ezra Manjon (24 points, 8-13 FG) and 5th-year Liam Robbins (22 points, 10-15 FT).

“That was a great win for us. Our guys really competed down the stretch,” coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “Liam really controlled the paint for us, got to the foul line, and finished around the basket. Ezra’s floor game was great tonight, being patient, getting to his spots and making plays for his teammates.”

South Carolina got out to a quick lead with hot three-point shooting, which left the Commodores with an early 13-5 deficit to start the game.

Stackhouse inserted Manjon off the bench after five minutes, who pushed the tempo and scored two layups to put the Commodores within three. Robbins also came in and quickly collected two blocks to stymie the Gamecock offense momentarily. He ended with six blocks in the game.

Senior Jordan Wright (13 points, 3-4 from three) and freshman Noah Shelby then each knocked in a three to tie the game at 20-20.

Wright and freshman Colin Smith were tasked with guarding South Carolina’s GG Jackson II, a freshman rated No. 6 nationally in the recruiting class of 2022 who averaged 17 ppg heading into the contest, and the pair was able to hold Jackson II to 13 points on the night.

“[Jackson II]’s talented. We wanted to try to crowd him and get under him, not give him so much of the floor, have him turn to the baseline more than get to the middle where he has more options. Colin Smith did a good job early on—getting under him,” Stackhouse said. “Every night you face those type of caliber players, but we have those type of players ourselves when they’re focused.”

Amidst a flurry of offense for South Carolina at the end of the half, Robbins slammed home two dunks in the last minute to give Vanderbilt a 34-32 lead at the break.

South Carolina got out to another lead to start the second half though, going on a 16-4 run which turned a five point Vanderbilt lead to a seven point deficit, 48-41 with 13:15 left.

However, Robbins once again got to work in the paint, scoring two more buckets and two shots at the free throw line to get the Commodores back within a possession. Manjon found success in transition midway through the half, adding a layup and an assist to 5th-year Emmanuel Ansong, who threw down a highlight dunk on a fast break with 9:15 to go.

“[Manjon] was great. He did a really good job of running the show, picking spots defensively.” Stackhouse said. “I think he gets to watch the game a little bit and see the flow of the game and then come in and give us what we need.”

After a lull offensively on both sides, Wright made a critical three with 1:48 to go to put the Commodores up 66-63. Stackhouse finished the game and overtime with a lineup of Wright, Manjon, Robbin, junior Myles Stute and junior Tyrin Lawrence.

The Commodores were not able to break away in regulation, though. Wright missed two free throws and Robbins made one of two with one minute remaining, which gave the Gamecocks an opportunity at the end. Down 67-65 with 23 seconds to go, South Carolina was able to get up two unsuccessful three-point shots, the second being blocked by Robbins. However, the Gamecocks secured another offensive rebound, leading directly to a game-tying layup right at the buzzer.

“It was tough,” Manjon said about the play. “Just felt like we should have had that one but we just have to have a quick memory and get ready for overtime to compete.”

The Commodores were able to take control of the game in overtime through free throws. Manjon was a perfect 6-6 and Robbins went 7-8 from the line in the extra period, capping off an incredible performance by the duo to win the game 84-79.

Vanderbilt plays at No. 20 Missouri on Saturday Jan. 11 at 11:00 a.m. CST broadcast nationally on CBS.

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About the Contributor
Matthew Shipley, Former Senior Staff Writer
Matthew Shipley (‘25) is from Hendersonville, Tenn., and is majoring in economics, mathematics and political science and minoring in data science. He enjoys closely following the U.S. Supreme Court, playing basketball and being involved in his faith community. He can be reached at [email protected].
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