Brown, Nesmith propel Vanderbilt to 97-60 win over South Carolina State

What can Brown do for you? How about a career-high scoring output to guide Vanderbilt to its fourth win of the season.

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Brown, Nesmith propel Vanderbilt to 97-60 win over South Carolina State

Aaron Nesmith finishes through traffic in the first half of Vanderbilt's matchup against South Carolina State on Friday night.

Aaron Nesmith finishes through traffic in the first half of Vanderbilt's matchup against South Carolina State on Friday night.

Mattigan Kelly

Aaron Nesmith finishes through traffic in the first half of Vanderbilt's matchup against South Carolina State on Friday night.

Mattigan Kelly

Mattigan Kelly

Aaron Nesmith finishes through traffic in the first half of Vanderbilt's matchup against South Carolina State on Friday night.

Max Schneider, Sports Editor

On Wednesday night, Clevon Brown was a virtual non-factor.

The senior forward picked up two fouls in the first three minutes and sat the remainder of the first half. He finished the game with a zero in the scoring column and with one rebound in just eight minutes of action. It was Brown’s lowest output of the season in all three categories.

Friday night, Commodore fans were treated to a performance from Clevon Brown that was quite the opposite. Brown posted a career-high 19 points on 8-13 shooting to go along with six boards in a 97-60 victory.

“Clevon did a good job around the basket relocating,” head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “I think it’s huge, not just playing in the pick and rolls, but relocating when guys drive and making themselves available.”

“Just playing off the pick-and-roll with the guards,” Brown added. “The rolls were open, they fed me the ball and I just finished.”

Aaron Nesmith, who has now led Vanderbilt in scoring in each of its first four games, certainly did his part, scoring 20 points and pulling down five rebounds. Saben Lee chipped in with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists off the bench.

The Commodores eclipsed 90 points for the third consecutive game, in part due to their 19 assists on 35 field goals. Six players finished in double figures, including Dylan Disu, who posted a double-double.

“We really shared the ball,” Stackhouse said. “I thought we executed our stuff pretty good. They mixed in some zone and I thought we were really good against the zone.”

It was all Vanderbilt right from the opening tip. Nesmith started the scoring, driving right through the Bulldogs’ defense and earning a quick two buckets. The bigs followed suit shortly after. Dylan Disu nailed a long-ball to extend Vanderbilt’s three-point streak, and Brown threw down a pair of early dunks to give the Commodores an early 13-6 lead.

After the first media timeout, South Carolina switched from a man defense to a zone in order to clog the paint. A couple jumpers from Jahmari Etienne pulled South Carolina State within four, but the Commodores wasted no time answering with a pair of threes from Aaron Nesmith, exposing the holes in the Bulldogs’ zone. With his first triple, this became the 27th consecutive game that the sophomore guard made at least one three. Scotty Pippen Jr. scored on a three-point play of his own the very next possession, blowing by his defender with a nifty behind-the-back dribble move before laying it up and in through contact.

Having already opened up a big lead, the Commodores continued to pile it on in the remainder of the first half. Following Dylan Disu’s second three, Brown scored five points in quick succession, keying a 12-1 Vanderbilt run that gave the Commodores a 41-20 lead with just three minutes to play in the half. Two more dunks from Brown – the first of which came on an alley-oop from Pippen Jr. and the second of which came on a no-look dime from Lee after he left his defender in the dust – brought the Commodores into the locker room with a 47-26 lead. Vanderbilt shot 61 percent in the first half, the team’s highest percentage in any half this season.

“I really do think he could lead the league in assists if he has that mindset because he puts so much pressure on the defense where they have to pay attention to him,” Stackhouse said of Lee when asked about that pass to Brown.

South Carolina State didn’t fold, though. The Bulldogs came out hot in the second half, opening the period on a 16-5 run to cut the lead to just 10. Pippen Jr. was able to stop the bleeding, nailing a wide-open three thanks to an offensive rebound from Disu. A hustle play on a loose ball from Jordan Wright keyed an and-one from Lee, and a spin move for a finish in the lane from Matthew Moyer brought the lead back up to 17.

The Commodores opened the door for the Bulldogs after a couple missed threes and just a 1-5 start to the half from the charity stripe. Lee took control of the offense, finding Brown for a couple more easy buckets and a layup of his own off a hesitation dribble. Brown’s series of buckets and offensive rebound that led to a three from Max Evans sparked a 9-0 run that gave the Commodores a 76-52 lead, their largest to that point. Evans would hit two more threes in the final minutes to bring his scoring total to a season-high 15 points.

Vanderbilt emptied the bench in the last two minutes to close out the victory. Walk-on Trace Arbuckle nailed a three for the team’s final bucket of the contest, leading to an eruption from the Commodore student section.

“Absolutely,” said Evans when asked if he knew Arbuckle’s three was going in. “He’s a clutch shooter. He makes them in practice so I knew it was good once it left his hand.”

The Commodores will have two days off before taking on Southeastern Louisiana at home on Monday night. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. CT.

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