Whatever the case, Vanderbilt came out on fire, built an immediate 17-2 lead and cruised to a 90-54 victory over Texas-Pan American before a sparsely populated Memorial Gym.
"We were smiling when we came out for warm-ups because there were very few people here," said Dawid Przybyszewski. "We knew we had to bring our own energy."
Przybyszewski certainly did that, hitting all six of his three-point attempts and finishing with 18 points on a tidy 6-for-6 shooting effort. The Commodores as a whole shot 60 percent for the game and 56 percent from three.
"It is important to get back on track," said Mario Moore, who started and scored 12 points. "We have to keep being hungry."
Despite his perfect shooting night, Przybyszewski was still hard on himself because he did not grab a rebound in 18 minutes.
"I was so upset during the game because of my rebounding I wasn't happy at all that I hit my shots," he said.
It appeared the Commodores came out playing H-O-R-S-E and a basketball game broke out. Vanderbilt's first seven shots were all swishes, with five coming from three-point land. Przybyszewski nailed three threes right off the bat, Corey Smith (12 points) and Moore hit uncontested threes and Smith and Jason Holwerda had layups. It was 17-2 before the first timeout, and things didn't seem like they would improve for the visitors.
So who is Texas-Pan American? It is an independent this season and has an 11-12 record, including 1-10 on the road. The Broncos lost at Northwestern by a respectable eight, but UNLV (20), Oklahoma (40) and Air Force (33) have all cruised to easy home wins.
"(This game) gives guys a chance to get their heads up when you play well and build confidence back," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "It alleviates dealing with a loss for the whole week."
Following Vanderbilt's initial outburst, the Commodores didn't exactly cool off, finishing the first half 10-for-16 from three (63 percent) and 18-for-28 overall (64 percent). The Dores almost had more trouble in the layup line coming out of halftime than they did during the first half.
In the second half, Vanderbilt poured it on, eventually building an 85-45 lead. All 12 Commodores scored, including walk-on Aubrey Hammond, who scored his first bucket of the season with 11 ticks left on the clock.
Freshman DeMarre Carroll "tweaked his ankle," according to Stallings, and sat out the second half.
Stallings sat Alex Gordon in the first half for disciplinary reasons, giving Moore a chance to play his way out of his recent slump. Moore responded, then said after the game it has been off-the-court issues that have plagued him recently.
"It was a mental thing from things off the court," Moore said. "It wasn't basketball. We knew basketball wasn't the problem. … It was about getting back to my daily routine, getting out of my funk and having the charisma I had daily. I lost that. People I didn't know were saying I didn't look the same. If somebody that doesn't know me is telling me that, you know you have to take a step back."
"Kwane was a factor. That was hard. And I felt bad for Julian," Moore said. "We've been friends since middle school. I was real close with his mom. Once you get over one, then there is another. I have to try to let things go. If I try to hold onto the memory or try to do certain things for them, it is hard for me to get on with my daily routine. I was up one day, down the next day. It becomes very inconsistent, and that made me an inconsistent player."
Bill Trocchi is the interactive editor for Athlon Sports.
Texas Pan American's Alvaidas Gedminas, center, gets pressure from Vanderbilt's Corey Smith, left, and Alan Metcalfe, right, in the second half in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, Feb. 7, 2005. Vanderbilt won 90-54. (AP Photo/John Russell)