"I told him he played great defense," Wright said. "That guy just loves to play defense."
With Holwerda harassing Wright all night at one end, and Matt Freije setting a school record for free throws made at the other, Vanderbilt recorded an encouraging 73-60 victory over Indiana before 12,478.
Freije poured in a career-high 32 points, including 18-for-18 shooting at the free throw line, as he supplied all the offense Vanderbilt needed in this key pre-conference matchup.
"I think Matt is a big-time player," said Indiana coach Mike Davis. "I hope he's the best player we face all year."
Freije shot just 2-for-10 in the first half from the floor, but he settled down in the second half and scored 13 straight Vanderbilt points at one point.
"Let's be honest," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, who broke a two-game losing streak against the Big Ten. "We know where our bread is buttered. We're going to give it to No. 35 until someone stops him."
At the other end of the floor, the plan was to do anything possible to stop Wright (right), who scored 31 points in Indiana's easy victory over Vanderbilt last year.
"We would have gone to a triangle-and-three if we had to, but he wasn't going to beat us if we could help it," Stallings said. "Jason did a great job of keeping the ball out of his hands."
Wright scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds, but he had to work for everything he got and was visibly frustrated in the second half.
"I feel like I ran a marathon chasing him around those screens," Holwerda said.
Vanderbilt broke open a 9-9 game with a 13-0 run, and never really let Indiana threaten to take the lead in the game's final 30 minutes. The closest Indiana came the rest of the game was six points, and the closest it came in the final 10 minutes was eight.
"It's tough to go on the road with a young team versus an older team," Stallings said. "Never underestimate the value of experience."
Mario Moore has been at Vanderbilt for just two years, but he had the experience to step up in the huddle with five minutes remaining when Stallings considered taking Freije out for a rest.
"I wanted him in until his tongue was hanging out," Moore said. "You can't take someone like that out with five minutes to go. It is Freije all the way. All I can say is 'Wow.'"
Stallings was saying the same thing about Holwerda's effort on Wright, whose four baskets were all tough shots.
"Jason is the most well-conditioned athlete on our team," Stallings said. "Was I surprised he was able to hold him in check like that? Yes, but I was more impressed."
Vanderbilt has now won 14 straight home-openers and is 2-6 all-time vs. Indiana. The last time Vanderbilt beat the Hoosiers was during Indiana's 1986-87 national championship season.
Bill Trocchi is the online editor at Athlon Sports.