"It was a good win… We opened the game with a good pace and a good level of intensity," said Coach Kevin Stallings following the game. "That was what we needed to do and that was the difference in the game for us."
The Commodores got off to a quick start, outscoring Southeastern Louisiana 53-24 in the first half. Those 53 points are the most Vanderbilt has scored in the first half since 2007. It was clear that the game was in hand very early on—the Commodores jumped out to a 17-3 lead and never looked back.
Vanderbilt was led by junior forward Steve Tchiengang, who came off the bench to score 15 points and pull down 5 rebounds.
"Steve had been—I don't want to say struggling—but not playing like we know he can," said Coach Stallings about Tchiengang. "I think he got some things cleared up tonight… It was fun to see."
"I've had a bad…stretch," admitted Tchiengang. "I told myself I need to be more aggressive and more passionate. I told myself I needed to step up".
He certainly stepped up: his 15 points mark a career high and just the second time he has scored double figures in his time at Vanderbilt. Tchiengang made three-pointers on consecutive possessions to pull the Commodores out of an early second half slump.
Senior guard Gary Dixon led Southeastern Louisiana coming off the bench with a game-high 16 points including four three-pointers. However, Vanderbilt's defense proved to be too much, holding the Lions to just 31% from the field. Steve Tchiengang and fellow big man Festus had two blocked shots a piece to stifle Southeastern Louisiana's offense.
With the result of the game never in question, reserves Jordan Smart and Joe Duffy had the opportunity to play significant minutes. Sophomore forward Smart recorded the first three points of he collegiate career with a deep three-pointer with just under two minutes remaining in the game. The bench erupted when Smart made the shot.
"He barely misses in practices—when he takes a shot, we expect it to go in. It's always exciting to see a teammate break that scoring [barrier]," said Tchiengang about Smart's performance. Coach Stallings said with a smile, "I told [Jordan Smart] today at the shoot-around that he was going to score tonight and he needed to get ready for it."
Vanderbilt was without junior forward Andre Walker, who is suffering from mono. When asked about his condition, Coach Stallings could not give a timetable on his return. Lance Goulbourne made his second career start in his place. Goulbourne led the team with 8 rebounds and added 13 points in 29 minutes. As a team, Vanderbilt shot 52% from the field, including 50% from three-point range.
Vanderbilt has a short road trip to Murfreesboro to face Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday before returning to Memorial on the 29th to face Marquette.