Vanderbilt survived foul trouble and sealed the game at the free throw line as the Commodores went to the Galen Center and scored an 82-78 win over Southern Cal in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Vandy (2-0) struggled from the line overall, but went 11 of 12 from the charity stripe in the final 2:14. Guard Saben Lee hit two to clinch it with 2.1 seconds left.
The teams committed 46 fouls, with Southern Cal losing three players, and Vandy losing forward Simi Shittu, who scored 14 points and pulled 15 rebounds despite sitting for almost eight minutes during a second-half stretch.
VU freshman point guard Darius Garland, playing part of the second half with four fouls, poured in a game-high 21 points. Forward Joe Toye added 16 points and nine rebounds for Vandy.
Southern Cal forward Nick Rakocevic led the Trojans (1-1) with 19 points and 18 rebounds. Guards Derrick Thornton (17 points), Jordan Usher (12) and Kevin Porter Jr. (12) added double-digit scoring, but all three fouled out.
Usher found guard Jonah Mathews for a layup with 3:11 left, putting the Trojans up 69-67. That was its last lead; off a Shittu steal, Vandy’s Matt Ryan made a terrific no-look, backwards tip-pass to Lee for a fast-break lay-up to tie the game with 2:39 left. Toye hit a pair of free throws with 2:14 left to give Vandy a lead for good.
The Commodores made 19 of 30 free throws in the game.
Vanderbilt led 42-36 at half, a fast-paced affair during which the teams combined for 80 shots.
Shittu had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. He made one of the highlight-reel plays of the first half, picking up a steal and driving about 70 feet for a dunk on the other end of the floor that put the ‘Dores up 42-32 late in the first half, the biggest lead for either team.
Porter Jr. had 12 first-half points to lead all scorers. The Commodores had trouble guarding him. But the freshman picked up his third foul with 1:22 left before the break.
Lee, the team’s leading returning scorer from last season, went 0 for 8 from the field in the first half.
USC entered Sunday ravaged with injuries. Senior forward Bennie Boatwright and freshman guard Elijah Weaver still haven’t played due to injuries, and sophomore guard Chuck O’Bannon is sidelined with a broken finger.
—Field Level Media