NASHVILLE-- The Vanderbilt Commodores (5-1) topped the Tulane Green Wave (3-4) 66-46 Saturday night at Memorial Gym. Sophomore Brian Thornton scored a career high 20 points and six rebounds to lead the Commodores.
In a game where defense ruled, the Commodores were kings. Vanderbilt held the Green Wave to only 21 points and 29 percent shooting in the first half. The only bright spot for Tulane was senior Brandon Brown, who got most of his eight first-half points from very close range.
The Commodores came out of the gates with six of their first eight points coming from in the paint. Leading the way early on were sophomores Corey Smith and Thornton.
The duo not only put on a show on the court, but they also entertained the crowd of 7,812 in a pregame video that was part of the Vanderbilt - Predators ticket plan. Season ticketholders to the NHL Nashville Predators were able to purchase tickets to the Tulane game at a discounted price.
Junior Matt Freije struggled early, as he did not ink his first points until 7:46 remaining in the first half. But the two points were huge as Freije followed a missed shot with a tremendous dunk to bring the fans to their feet. Freije turned things around from there and earned only his second career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Freije's first double-double came against Birmingham Southern during his freshman year.
Vanderbilt ended the first half leading 31-21.
The Commodores maintained the eight- to 12-point cushion for most of the half. The only time Vanderbilt was threatened came when Tulane scored two consecutive fast-break dunks to cut the Commodore lead to six at 42-36.
The Green Wave would never threaten again. The Vanderbilt starting five checked back into the game at the 10-minute mark and dominated. The 'Dores put together a 20-10 run that put the game out of reach. The run was keyed by none other that Thornton. Guards Russell Lakey and Jason Holwerda did an excellent job getting the ball down low to Thornton where he could not be handled.
The Commodores hit the road to face last year's national runner up Indiana Monday evening in Bloomington, Ind. The game will be televised by ESPN2 and will tipoff at 6 pm CST.