Defense shuts down Alabama A&M, 68-40

If defense wins championships, then Vanderbilt may well be on its way to some great moments this year. Just ask Alabama A&M. They could tell you about the 28 turnovers they committed, or their game shooting percentage of 19.1, or the fact that they only scored 13 points in the first half. Whatever the case, Vanderbilt's defense was the controlling factor in tonight's 68-40 win at Memorial Gymnasium.

The offense for Vandy was a little suspect. Matt Freije and Corey Smith led the Commodores in scoring with 13 points each, but really to an extent it was a team effort as 9 players scored and everyone played.

The offense was troubled by A&M's quick trapping and pressing defense. Vanderbilt turned the ball over 27 times. However, there were certainly more bright points than not. Mario Moore and Russell Lakey combined for 10 points and 8 assists between them. Lakey had 6 points and 5 assists. Brian Thornton scored just 5 points but grabbed an impressive 10 rebounds including 5 offensive boards.

Jason Holwerda had another all around solid game. Despite the fact that he scored only 7 points, defensively he shut down Ricky Ricketts of A&M who had scored 28 points in A&M's first game. Rickets was held to just 9 points. Holwerda added 3 rebounds, 2 assists (including a pretty ally-oop to Matt Freije), a couple of blocked shots, and 2 steals.

The game was over early. A&M scored the first bucket but Vanderbilt took the lead on the next trip down the floor on a Freije 3-pointer and never looked back. By halftime Vanderbilt led 31-13. The second half opened with Vandy going on a 9-0 run. The highlight of the game came midway through the second half when Julian Terrell stole the ball near the top of the key, passed it to Mario, and then was on the receiving end of a beautiful pass that ended in a two-hand slam.

Vandy controlled the boards and outscored A&M in the paint. Vanderbilt's next game is against Georgia Southern on Tuesday night at Memorial Gymnasium. The Commodores moved their record to 2-0 while Alabama A&M drops to 1-1. Alabama A&M travels to Starkville, Miss. on December 7 for a game with Mississippi State.

Alabama A&M forward Terry Horton (33) steals the ball from Vanderbilt center David Przybyszewski (13), Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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