Yes, it was the 600th Vanderbilt victory in the hallowed halls, but that was pretty much the only thing notable about the Commodores' 85-64 victory over Tennessee State on Wednesday night.
Vanderbilt avoided the letdown bug earlier this season following the Indiana win with an outstanding effort against UT-Martin. The bug bit last night, however, as thoughts of the Michigan win were still dancing through the Commodores' minds at tipoff.
"We only get 30 or so opportunities to do this, and I would like to think the players get enthused about each and every one of them," coach Kevin Stallings said. "I am realistic enough to know that every one of them doesn't hold the same level of meaning and excitement to them. If they weren't interested (tonight), that's my fault."
Vanderbilt was never threatened by its Nashville neighbor, but Tennessee State is a program in complete shambles, as evidenced by its 94-43 loss to Georgia Tech in its last outing. The Commodores (6-0) did not control the game like a Top 25 team, even though that is where they may find themselves very soon.
The Commodores gradually built its lead to 20-8, took a 46-28 lead into the break and led 67-37 with 8:11 to play. From there, sloppiness begat more sloppiness as the teams traded turnovers and mistakes.
"Coach won't allow this to happen again," Smith said of the team's lack of concentration. "We have to take every game seriously. Just because the team is not a high Division I team doesn't mean we can take the night off."
One player that clearly did not take the night off was David Przybyszewski. The Polish forward tallied 17 points on just 7 shots. He was 6-for-7 from the floor, 4-for-4 from the line and grabbed six rebounds.
"This is how he has looked in practice," Stallings said. "If we want to be a good team, we need him to continue to play this way. He is a very talented young man, but sometimes he lacks aggressiveness."
Russell Lakey finished the night with 6 assists, 5 points and 4 rebounds in just 18 minutes. Freshman Dan Cage nailed two three-pointers off the bench, and Julian Terrell grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
If the Commodores were to have a letdown, Tennessee State (1-5) was a good choice of foe. Tennessee Tech, Vanderbilt's opponent on Saturday, would not, as the Golden Eagles are one of the stronger non-conference squads left on the VU slate. Tennessee Tech was No. 84 in the Wednesday night Sagarin ratings, while TSU was No. 262.
"I think we will talk about (the letdown)tomorrow at practice and go from there," Smith said.
Bill Trocchi is the online editor at Athlon Sports.