The Commodores received great efforts from Nolan Cressler, Luke Kornet and others in Vanderbilt's win over Iowa State yesterday and maybe the team can take this win and use it as fuel for the rest of the season.
Cressler was the star on Saturday afternoon. He was almost flawless as his scored 20 points going 8-10 from the field, 4-4 from three point range along with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and no turnovers. The Cornell transfer had his best game in a Commodores uniform and was a big reason why Vanderbilt was able to upset Iowa State, who very well could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament.
The game didn't start the way Vanderbilt (10-11/3-5 SEC) would have liked. Trailing by 11 with about 8:00 minutes remaining, the Commodores struggled to find the basket while the Cyclones had no problem finding the bottom of the net.
Well a sudden surge and a 18-7 run brought the Dores back to eventually tie the game at 33 a piece headed into the locker room. Adjustments and possibly a spirited speech by Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew at halftime lifted the team as they started the 2nd half on fire and never looked back.
Vanderbilt was on fire from deep as they ended the game going 13-30 and 43% overall from three. Iowa State had a hard time guarding the Commodores three point shooters but on the other hand, Vanderbilt equally struggled stopping Cyclones star guard Monte Morris.
The senior guard was the game's leading scorer with 25 as he was able to score at will from anywhere on the court, regardless of who was guarding him. Morris was tough to stop but he didn't get much help from his teammates.
The Commodores maintained the lead throughout the 2nd half but a late run by the Cyclones brought the game closer and began to remind the Vandy faithful of Tuesday night and the other collapsed losses earlier in the season.
This time it wouldn't happen as the Commodores made multiple free throws down the stretch and came up with some big stops when needed.
This was a must win for Vanderbilt as they have been struggling to find consistency while still being in the mix to win most of their games. Iowa State (13-7) is a quality basketball team with veteran players. Vanderbilt could of easily came into this game with their head's down after Tuesday's loss to Arkansas but they didn't. They fought hard and kept plugging away and eventually found themselves as the winner by game's end.
Kornet lead the team in scoring with 21 points while also continuing to be the force he is down low. Jeff Roberson had himself another solid game with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Matthew Fisher-Davis chipped in 14 before fouling out late in the game.
Vanderbilt will hit the road next and jump back into SEC play this Tuesday night against the Aggies of Texas A&M. The game is set to tip at 8 pm Central and will air on ESPNU.