Vanderbilt stifles Ragin' Cajuns, 71-44

NASHVILLE-- Vanderbilt concluded its pre-conference schedule with a convincing 71-44 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Sunday afternoon at half-filled Memorial Gym. It was Vanderbilt's ninth non-conference home win in as many tries, with all coming by a margin of at least 16 points.

NASHVILLE-- As Corey Smith put it, "It is time for the big boy games." Vanderbilt concluded its pre-conference schedule with a convincing 71-44 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Sunday afternoon at half-filled Memorial Gym. It was Vanderbilt's ninth non-conference home win in as many tries, with all coming by a margin of at least 16 points.

The atmosphere will be markedly different Wednesday night, when ESPN2 brings its cameras into what should be a packed Memorial to capture the SEC opener between Alabama (11-2) and Vanderbilt (9-4).

Sunday's win was at times rousing and sloppy, as Alex Gordon auditioned for the nickname ‘Microwave' with a remarkable stretch of four three-pointers (getting fouled on the fourth) in a mere 2:23 in the first half as Vanderbilt built an insurmountable 21-3 lead.

"My teammates saw how I was feeling it and I was putting it in the basket," said Gordon, who finished with a season-high 17 points to go along with four assists and no turnovers.

Louisiana-Lafayette shot poorly throughout, connecting on 29 percent of its field goals, 14 percent of its 3-pointers and 39 percent of its free throws. Brian Hamilton and Tiras Wade led the way with 15 points each, with the twosome scoring all 26 of the Ragin' Cajuns points in the first 29 minutes of the game.

Smith continued his strong play of late with 13 points in a reserve role as Vanderbilt's bench produced 44 points on the night. "The story for us was our bench," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "They gave us a spark in the first half and again in the second."

Stalllings made a point of his displeasure with his starting unit four minutes into the second half, pulling all five players after some sloppy play. Vanderbilt's five reserves put together a 10-0 run, with five points coming from Smith and five more from Dan Cage as the Commodores built a 47-23 lead.

"All in all I was pleased even though we had a couple of our regulars who didn't play as well as they usually do," Stallings said. Mario Moore and Dawid Przybyszewski spring to mind, as Moore had five points, five turnovers and no assists, while Przybyszewski scored just one point and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

The second half featured a pair of pretty sequences, with Smith putting together a steal-and-slam fast break, then making a brilliant save on the defensive end, which led to a DeMarre Carroll dunk that pushed the lead to 65-35.

With conference play on the horizon, Stallings usually likes to tighten his rotation, but he said with ten players productive right now, that may not necessarily be the case this year.

"There are nights when our ninth or tenth guy could be our best guy," Stallings said. "We don't have the variance between No. 1 and No. 10 that some teams do. If that is going to continue to be the case, then we have to continue to give those guys opportunities."


Vanderbilt's Mario Moore, right gets run into by Louisiana-Lafayette's Dwayne Mitchell, left. (AP Photo/Neil Brake)

Bill Trocchi is the interactive editor for Athlon Sports. Photos by Neil Brake for AP.

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