Stackhouse era starts with 83-65 win over Southeast Missouri State

The threes were falling, the student-section was rocking and the Commodores were rolling.

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Stackhouse era starts with 83-65 win over Southeast Missouri State

Aaron Nesmith celebrates a bucket against Southeast Missouri State.

Aaron Nesmith celebrates a bucket against Southeast Missouri State.

Hunter Long

Aaron Nesmith celebrates a bucket against Southeast Missouri State.

Hunter Long

Hunter Long

Aaron Nesmith celebrates a bucket against Southeast Missouri State.

Simon Gibbs, Deputy Sports Editor

The Stackhouse era couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. 

The threes were falling, the student-section was rocking and the Commodores were rolling to the tune of an 11-0 lead over Southeast Missouri State within just two and a half minutes.

Vanderbilt’s 83-65 victory over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks showed plenty of promise, with veterans Aaron Nesmith and Saben Lee shouldering much of the offensive load. Nesmith posted 25 points on 7-11 from beyond the arc, while Lee had 21 of his own, along with four assists and four rebounds.

“878 more [wins] and then I tie Coach [Dean] Smith,” Stackhouse said, referencing his former coach while playing at the University of North Carolina. “We’re well on our way.”

Hunter Long
Aaron Nesmith takes off on a fastbreak against Southeast Missouri State. (Photo by: Hunter Long)

The box score showed a blowout, but the game did not always appear to be headed in that direction. The Commodores almost seemed to show two sides of a team: one capable of the 11-0 early run, and another capable of nearly giving away the game.

“It was a tale of two halves for us,” Stackhouse said. “We obviously got off to a good start, guys played really well, came out with a lot of energy. They got a big lead, but I guess it’s human nature to have a little bit of a let down.”

Vanderbilt had the hot hand early as they nailed five of their first eight three point attempts to catalyze an early lead. The exuberant student section quickly caught a glimpse of what happens when an NBA-style, three point-reliant offense goes well.

Senior forward Clevon Brown made his first two attempts from deep — despite making just two threes in the entirety of the 2018-19 season. He extended Vanderbilt’s three-point streak to near unchartered territory, as the Commodores have made at least one three pointer in every game since the arc debuted in 1986. That’s good for a total of 1,064 straight games.

“[Clevon] is just a consummate pro,” Stackhouse said. “He comes in, he works, he does all the dirty work and that’s why I wanted to start the game with him today. I just think he epitomizes who we are. The guy just goes about his business, and I wanted him to make that first shot and he called it for me, he knocked down the three. I think that’s something that’s going to be a real weapon for us, his ability to stretch bigger guys out on the floor and draw them out so they have to defend him. That’ll create more driving lanes for Scotty and Saben.”

Nesmith followed suit by making both his first three point attempts of the season.

But the momentum proved short lived. 

After their first five buckets from behind the arc, the Commodores three point shooting went cold. They missed all nine of their ensuing first half three point attempts, finishing the half with a 5-17 conversion rate. 

“I didn’t think we played bad in there,” Stackhouse said, despite his team temporarily losing the lead. “We just had a few miscues in there and allowed them to get on a run and tie the game up.”

In that span, Southeastern Missouri State capitalized. They forced 12 Commodore turnovers and kept their offense simple; they opted to work the ball inside the paint rather than taking contested jumpers. The Redhawks took 26 layups in the first half (and just seven three point attempts), which outnumbered Vanderbilt’s 14.

When the threes stopped falling, the Commodores’ lead started falling. Once as high as 11 points, their momentum had practically disappeared by halftime. The Commodores and the Redhawks entered the locker room after the first 20 minutes knotted up at 32.

Slowly but surely, however, Vanderbilt’s offense regained the efficiency and cohesion it had lacked for much of the first half.

Most of that charge was led by Nesmith, who made five of his six second-half three point attempts. The Commodores seemed to have shaken off the nerves that initially loomed, as they turned the ball over just five times — seven less than their first half tally.

“I’ve been waiting for this for about 11 months,” Nesmith said after the win. “It’s been a while. It was just fun to get back out there with my brothers. [It’s] a brand new team, practically all freshmen, so it was just good to get a win for them.”

Brown continued to impress from beyond the arc, making his third three on the night and overtaking his total from last season.

The Commodore defense was rather quiet at first, but Scotty Pippen Jr.’s two second half steals contributed to six in the 20-minute, second half span. They forced a total of 17 turnovers in the second half, leading to ten points off turnovers.

Vanderbilt will have a few days to rest and digest their performance before their next matchup. They return to Memorial Gymnasium to host Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Nov. 11.

“I’ll be watching film and getting ready to have a film session on Friday to see where we can improve,” Stackhouse said. “That’s all that we can care about. Trying to improve game-by-game.”

Hunter Long
Jerry Stackhouse watches as his Commodores regain momentum in the second half. (Photo by: Hunter Long)

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