Led by balanced scoring and outstanding defense, Vanderbilt scored an 81-65 home upset of No. 18 Arizona State at Nashville’s Memorial Gymnasium on Monday evening.
Vanderbilt (7-2) was led by guards Aaron Nesmith (13) and Saben Lee (14), and forwards Yanni Wetzell (12), Matt Ryan (11) and Joe Toye (11).
Guard Luguentz Dort, who averaged 20.9 points per game coming into the contest, had a season-low 10 on 3-of-13 shooting. Junior guard Rob Edwards led the Sun Devils (8-2) with 14 off the bench.
Arizona State hit a season-low 32.3 percent from the field but stayed within striking distance by getting to the foul line. ASU got in the bonus with 12:40 left, and the double bonus with 8:50 remaining, and hit 16 of its 20 free throws.
The Commodores got the night’s first double-digit lead at 51-41 after Nesmith soared above the rim to throw down a spectacular dunk on a feed from Lee with 11:15 remaining.
But Vanderbilt’s offense stagnated, and ASU whittled the lead down to 62-59 on Kimani Lawrence’s open 3-pointer with 3:56 left.
Vanderbilt, however, answered on its next possession when Lee found forward Simisola Shittu cutting in the lane for a layup. After a Sun Devil turnover, Toye hit a 3 from straight away, then Wetzell swatted away a shot that led to a fast break and a pair of Lee free throws for a 69-59 advantage with 2:39 left.
Arizona State never threatened again.
Vanderbilt started slowly, falling behind 9-0 after Dort’s 3-pointer at the 16:50 mark. The Commodores came up empty on their first seven offensive trips, finally getting on the board when Nesmith, coming off the bench, hit a step-back three at 15:45.
Vanderbilt tied it at 16 on Shittu’s layup from Nesmith, but ASU went on another 9-0 run punctuated with forward Taeshon Cherry’s pull-up jumper on the break, then a tip-in of Lawrence’s missed attempt from beyond the arc.
Again, Vanderbilt hit back, with guard Max Evans sandwiching a pair of 3s around an assist to forward Wetzell for a layup. The Commodores then took its first lead of the night on the next possession on Wetzell’s 3-pointer from Ryan from the left corner.
That eventually became a 13-0 run after Nesmith grabbed his own miss and put it back with 3:09 left in the period. The lead was 34-28 at half after Evans threw in a tough shot in the lane with eight seconds left.
—Field Level Media