Vandy dominates in opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Kevin Stallings hasn't lost his sense of humor. Actually, it's more that he hasn't lost the desire to be funny. It's just that sometimes he has to explain the joke.

The Vanderbilt coach, in his 16th season at the helm of the Commodores, said at the beginning of his postgame press conference that he'd have to watch the tape, but he thought his team played better in the second half than the first.

"That was intended to be funny," Stallings explained to the assembled media, which didn't get the one-liner at first.

Vanderbilt dominated the second half en route to an 83-56 season-opening win over Trevecca Nazarene on Sunday.

Damian Jones scored a career-high 24 points, while freshman Riley LaChance added 13 and Luke Kornet scored 10 to lead Vanderbilt.

Jones, a preseason All-SEC first-team selection, was 10 of 13 from the field and grabbed 12 rebounds as Vanderbilt (1-0) overwhelmed Trevecca (1-1), which is transitioning to NCAA Division II.

Trevecca managed to keep it close trailing 33-30 at the half, but Vanderbilt opened the second half on a 13-0 run, which included a couple spectacular dunks by Jones.

Three freshmen, including LaChance, started for Vanderbilt, which is in a major rebuilding mode. The team had only seven scholarship players a year ago and must now rely heavily on a rotation of five freshmen.

"There's going to be some inconsistencies with us," said Stallings. "I would like to think, in my more rational moments, that I would know that part of that is having a team as young as our team is."

Jones, a sophomore from Baton Rouge, La., will be asked to lead the Commodores and that's what he did against overmatched Trevecca, which is about a 15 minute drive from Vanderbilt.

Stallings knows that Jones will have be the one that guides his young squad.

"We need him to be a guy that can lead us and his play inspires confidence throughout the rest of our team," Stallings said. "His play today did that. Let's see it happen against guys that look more like him, play more like him, and are more his level of ability."

Jalen Palm led the Trojans with 11 points.

Vanderbilt was able to dominate inside as Trevecca didn't have an answer for Jones or Kornet, who finished with 10 rebounds. The sophomores blocked four shots apiece and altered several others.


Jeff Roberson


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