Vanderbilt nailed 11 of 22 three-pointers on the night. Sophomore Mario Moore and senior Matt Freije each had three long range buckets while Dawid Przybyszewski connected for two. Sophomore Adam Payton, junior Corey Smith, and senior Scott Hundley each chipped in one three-pointer.
Freije led all scorers with 20 points and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 7-for-8 at the line. Moore contributed 19, while Przybyszewski and Payton added 10 each.
Sophomore Matt Hammer and junior Tony Birmingham each had nine points to lead the Wolves.
After a sluggish start, Vanderbilt found itself down 12-11 at the first break. A new five players entered the game out of the timeout. The five, consisting of Moore, Przybyszewski, Hundley, Payton, and senior Martin Schnedlitz, went on a 10-0 run to give the Commodores a 21-12 lead.
Northern State fought back to cut the deficit to one after a Hammer layup. That would be as close as the Wolves would get. On the next possession Freije followed a missed shot with a monster dunk to give VU the 24-21 advantage.
Vanderbilt held a 31-28 lead at halftime.
Vanderbilt picked up the intensity out of halftime and put together an impressive 18-0 run. The Commodore defense held NSU scoreless for 6:32 until Luke Wicks converted a layup to make the score 49-30.
Vanderbilt hosts Nike Team Elite Monday, November 10th at 7 pm in its final exhibition game of the season. The Commodores open the regular season at Belmont University. Game time at Belmont's new Curb Event Center is set for 7 pm CT.
Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings
Opening statement… "I thought we were a little jittery in the first half. It's funny, these kids play basketball all their lives, and then you come into this gym with people in the stands and officials out there for the first time and still get jitters. It's great."
"(Northern State Head Coach) Don (Meyer)'s team played really hard, which I knew they would. The final score was a bit wider than it might have been, but we had a bit of a run in the second half. Our defensive intensity really picked up. A number of our guys played well tonight, and a number of them didn't. That is encouraging to me. In the second half I thought we got rid of the jitters and played well.
"Mario (Moore) brings a whole lot of energy to our team, and that is exactly what we need him to do. He's a very capable player, a good basketball talent, and I thought he played well. Adam Payton had some very good minutes. Dawid (Przybyszewski) has been playing that way since we were in Spain – aggressive around the basket, rebounding in crowds. He played very well. Once the second half started, I thought our intensity went way up."
On his halftime speech… "I told the guys that we had gotten the jitters out, so now we could play like we knew how to. I instructed them on some of the things that didn't go well for us. But I thought for the most part we had done a nice job. [Northern State] shot well in the first half, and we gave up nine lay-ups. Once we had that rectified, we were able to get some pressure on their shooters."
On Matt Freije… "I didn't want to have Matt (Freije) in the game too long. It is amazing what he can do in a such a short amount of time. I've coached basketball for a long time and I've never seen anyone score 20 points on only five shots."
On Julian Terrell… "Julian Terrell rebounded great in the second half, but this was really not his best night."
On his "best" five… "We would have to have Mario and Matt out there, and probably Adam Payton, Dawid and Scott Hundley. Maybe Russell (Lakey). It's hard to say. I would hope there would be a clear delineation, but until then everybody has a shot."
Senior forward Matt Freije
"This was a good way to start the year. But I still could have done a better job on my defensive rebounding. Maybe talk more on defense, too. Just generally play harder."
"Mario (Moore) has a whole lot of energy. He can score and pass, and he really kicks up the tempo. He is a great player. I hope he gives us that kind of spark all season."
"This is a great break from practice. You get tired of playing against the same guys day after day. Even when we're not actually practicing against each other, we're play pickup together. It's fun to get out and play against some new guys."
"I like playing against an actual college team. They play harder and are better coached than a regular exhibition team. They definitely play more as a team."
Sophomore guard Mario Moore
"We were too lazy in the first half. We needed to take better care of the ball and be more aggressive. We made that our focus in the second half."
"I want to be an energy giver and just have fun on the court. When I come in, I try to provide a spark, whether it is on offense or defense. That's how I play. I'm like that even if I'm just playing one-on-one with Matt. I love playing basketball and I love playing for Vanderbilt. I feel like you have to play with emotion."
Sophomore forward Julian Terrell
"Points are not really a big deal to me, especially with Mario and Matt scoring 20-plus. If I get boards, it's a good day for me."