The Commodores recorded a 74-58 win, but the sloppy ending marred what was a relatively encouraging performance after two straight flops in the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational.
"This was not a complete effort and we were hoping for something that represented a complete effort," said coach Kevin Stallings, whose team improved to 4-2 and 4-0 at home. "That wasn't what we were hoping for."
Mario Moore led the way with 23 points, which included 14 of Vanderbilt's final 16 points of the first half. Moore nailed five three-pointers and showed he has the ability to put Vanderbilt on his back if need be when the offense sputters. Moore did not take a shot in the first 14 minutes of the game, but exploded before halftime and lifted Vanderbilt to a 35-18 lead at the break.
Led by Moore, Vanderbilt nailed 13 of 25 threes, marking three straight home games of shooting 50 percent or more from long range. Moore was 5 for 7 and Dawid Przybyszewski (11 points) was 3 for 4.
The Commodores stretched the lead to 30 points in the second half thanks to a 16-0 run that featured an athletic alley-oop layup by Jason Holwerda and a backboard pass from Holwerda to Moore for another layup.
But when Vanderbilt took its foot off the gas, disaster ensued as Austin Peay (1-4) put together a 14-1 run.
"I was talking to (Matt) Freije last night and told him we don't have that instinct right now," Moore said. "When you smell blood, you need to have that killer instinct to go out there and just kill them. We can't put teams away. That is something we have to rectify ASAP."
Also disappointing on the Vanderbilt side was the rebounding totals, which read 41-32 in favor of the visitors from the Ohio Valley Conference. "I have no expectation of sitting here on Dec. 1 and having a team that looks like it is in midseason form because we are dependent depth-wise on some very young players," Stallings said.
After the two one-sided losses in Las Vegas, Vanderbilt hoped to turn things around in Memorial Gym. The Commodores played well in stretches, but not for 40 minutes.
"We are in a little bit of a slump, but we're on the way out," Holwerda said. "We made some improvements tonight. We looked sharp on defense in the first half and rebounded the ball well. In the second half, we reverted back a little bit. I think the ship is starting to turn around."
"You can't make deductions from this game," Stallings said. "Let's see how well we do Saturday. It's easy to come out in your own building and play. Let's see if we can play someone formidable away from home. We'll evaluate our progress there."
Austin Peay center Zac Schlader shoots over Vanderbilt's Julian Terrell (AP /Mark Humphrey)
Bill Trocchi is the interactive editor for Athlon Sports.