Vanderbilt guard Aaron Nesmith scored 21 points and added seven rebounds, leading the Commodores to a 71-66 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Monday evening in Nashville, Tenn.
Guards Saben Lee (15 points) and Scotty Pippen Jr. (10) and forward Clevon Brown (12) also scored in double-figures for Vanderbilt (2-0).
Guard Jashawn Talton-Thomas had a game-high 23 for the Islanders (0-2), who led at halftime after holding the advantage for much of the first 20 minutes. Guards Myles Smith and Nolan Bertain each had 11 points.
Vandy’s three guards were huge late.
Lee hit Nesmith with a cross-court pass for a made 3-pointer with 3:24 left, putting the Commodores up by five.
Minutes later, Pippen drove into traffic along the right baseline and threw a dart to an open Lee for a trey that made it 69-63 with 54 seconds left.
Nesmith canned a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left to seal the Commodores’ win.
It was a back-and-forth second half.
Nesmith’s stumbling layup 52 seconds into the period pulled Vanderbilt even for the first time since an 11-all tie with 13:30 left in the first half. A wide-open 3-pointer from Pippen with 17:45 left put Vanderbilt ahead, but Talton-Thomas answered with his own trey 24 seconds later.
Minutes later, Talton-Thomas’s steal and layup put the Islanders up by one again, but Brown threw down a spectacular one-handed dunk off Nesmith’s missed 3-pointer and hit a free throw, giving Vanderbilt a 38-36 edge.
The Islanders soon moved in front by five. A Brown dunk off feed from Lee tied the game at 50, and then Commodores forward Matthew Moyer banked in a 3-pointer from the left side to put Vanderbilt up 53-50 with 10:05 to play.
Another Brown dunk, with 5:28 left, put Vanderbilt up 63-55, its biggest advantage of the night.
But the Commodores couldn’t shake the visitors for long. Bertain sank a 3-pointer, leading to a four-point play with 5:12 left, and the Islanders remained within striking distance until the final seconds.
Bertain left the game late with what appeared to be a leg injury.
—Field Level Media