Red hot Cage leads VU past Central Michigan, 86-54

NASHVILLE-- Vanderbilt continued its pattern of dominating wins at home (and disappointing road losses) with an 86-54 victory over Central Michigan on Monday night. The Commodores stand a perfect 6-0 at home and 0-4 away from Memorial Gym during the 2004-05 campaign.

NASHVILLE-- Vanderbilt continued its pattern of dominating wins at home (and disappointing road losses) with an 86-54 victory over Central Michigan on Monday night. The Commodores stand a perfect 6-0 at home and 0-4 away from Memorial Gym during the 2004-05 campaign.

Sophomore Dan Cage poured in a career-high 18 points, and Vanderbilt survived a brief second-half scare to record its 19th consecutive non-conference home win.

"I'm lucky enough to build upon my role from last year," Cage said. "What I'd like to do is be solid in every area and be able to shoot the ball real well. I go in and I know plays are drawn up for me."

Freshman Corey Smith had 12 each. The Dores hit a season-high 15 three-pointers and shot a season-high 60 percent from the field.

Vanderbilt blew out to a 44-15 halftime lead on the strength of a suffocating first-half defensive effort that saw Central Michigan hit four of 28 shots in the opening stanza (14 percent). The Chippewas missed their first 12 shots of the game, as Vanderbilt led 11-1. A Kevin Stallings technical foul helped CMU shave the lead to 13-6, but from there it was all Commodores... until halftime.

At the outset of the second half, Central Michigan caught fire, hitting nine of its first ten shots en route to a 24-5 run that cut the Vanderbilt lead to a dangerous 49-39.

"At times it was bad defense, at times it was them making tough shots," Stallings said. "Part of it is human nature. It is hard to be up by 29 points and sit there and tell them, ‘Hey, this is still a game.'"

Moore stepped up and made one of his four threes to halt the CMU momentum and ignite a dominating 21-0 run that ended all doubt.

"It was crazy," Moore said. "You have to stop the bleeding. First thing we did was stop the bleeding, then Dan started to heat up and that was that."

Cage had ten points during the decisive run, including two threes and a difficult driving layup. Gordon capped the spree with a shot-clocking beating three-point heave that put the lead at 70-39 with 5:30 to play.

Vanderbilt has not had a game decided by less than ten points this season, leaving the team inexperienced in a last-possession type of game.

"We were approaching that today," Stallings said. "These games are more difficult than a game that is close throughout. When you go from being up big to where it is a game, psychologically, it is very damaging. I liked our response to it."

Vanderbilt has three more non-conference home games before it welcomes Alabama in the SEC opener at Memorial Gym. After that, back-to-back trips to Kentucky await, taking the team away from the friendly confines of Memorial Gym.

"At home, we come out confident and relaxed," Moore said. "Playing on the road, we seem to tense. I think that everyone is in a groove right now. I think we will develop an attitude and take it on the road."


Central Michigan guard Giordan Watson (11) shoots after getting past Vanderbilt defenders Corey Smith (44) and DeMarre Carroll (22). (AP / Mark Humphrey)

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Bill Trocchi is the interactive editor for Athlon Sports.


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