North Carolina State led wire-to-wire to knock off Vanderbilt 80-65 on Saturday at the Hoophall Miami Invitational.
Wolfpack forward DJ Funderburk, who scored 15 points in his previous four games combined, scored all 16 points in the first half. Guard Markell Johnson took over late, making big plays to help stave off a late Vandy rally.
Vanderbilt forward Simi Shittu and guard Saben Lee had 15 apiece for the Commodores (5-2).
Funderburk, Johnson, Daniels and Walker all had three fouls with 15:45 left. The Commodores, who had no fouls for the half at that point, went into the bonus at the 15:07 mark, and the double bonus with 12:52 left.
But Vandy finished just 18 of 30 (60 percent) from the free throw line and could never get over the hump. Vandy’s problems were compounded by a 3 of 22 performance on 3-pointers.
The Commodores cut the lead to two on Lee’s jumper with 8:31 left. Soon after, however, Johnson caught fire, scoring 12 points over about a four-minute span. Johnson put NC State up nine on a 3-pointer, banking one high off the glass over Shittu, and then hit a layup for an 11-point lead at the 4:02 mark. Vanderbilt never threatened again.
NC State got just about any shot it wanted much of the first half, as Vanderbilt, primarily a man-to-man team, switched to zone early in the period.
The Wolfpack ran out to a 17-9 lead at the 13:42 mark after hitting eight of its first 11 shots.
That lead moved to 36-25 with 6:39 left in the half when forward Jericole Hellems hit a shot in the lane off a spin move.
But NC State had issues guarding the Commodores off the dribble. Vanderbilt got into the bonus with 10:38 left in the half. Vanderbilt cut the lead to four minutes later when guard Aaron Nesmith hit a 3-pointer and then made two foul shots with 5:34 left in the period.
The Wolfpack’s shooting cooled as the half waned, but that’s when Funderburk took over as Commodore fouls — 12 in the first half — mounted. He scored five straight points late in the half, then gave the Wolfpack a 46-34 lead at the break on a layup off an assist by Braxton Beverly.
The Commodores were playing their second game adjusting to life without freshman point guard Darius Garland, a McDonald’s All-American, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 23.
—Field Level Media