NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Maxwell Evans is starting to prove he’s more than just a defensive specialist.
The junior guard from Houston tied a career high with 16 points and freshman point guard Scotty Pippen Jr. added 15 to lead Vanderbilt to its third straight win with a 78-70 victory over Southeastern Louisiana on Monday night.
Evans enjoyed the best back-to-back scoring games of his career after posting 15 in Friday’s rout of South Carolina State.
“He’s a defender that can make a shot,” Commodores coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “He’s become a better shooter from the time I saw him early in the spring when I came here until now and he’s worked on his game. He gets the reps up, works on his form shooting and takes it seriously.”
Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith, the nation’s top 3-point shooter and Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer, had 14 points and four 3-pointers points.
Stackhouse said it’s important to get contributions from players like Evans with defenses focusing on Nesmith, Saben Lee and Pippen.
“I want to give a shout out to Scotty and Saben for finding me and then coach Stack for having the confidence and believing in me to knock those shots down, so that’s all I needed,” Evans said. “I find myself playing both ends, defensive specialist and offensive scorer, so I’ve just got to let the game come to me.”
Lee had 12 and seven assists and freshman Dylan Disu scored 11 points and Saben for the Commodores (5-1).
Ty Brewer, a sophomore forward, led the Lions (2-5) with a career-high 26 points as he hit 11 of 22 from the floor and grabbed 12 rebounds.
“As we go on down the stretch, we’re going to learn that we’ve got to close out games and minimize those little mistakes that we make,” Brewer said. “Honestly, we had a lot of slippage that we’re going to correct.”
The Lions narrowed the deficit to 63-59 with 4:37 left before the Commodores started to pull away.
Southeastern Louisiana’s Brandon Gonzalez added 11 points.
Disu and Nesmith made consecutive 3-pointers to give the Commodores a 48-42 lead early in the second half.
The Commodores, playing their third game in six days, trailed most of the first half, before rallying for a 33-31 halftime lead.
Southeastern Louisiana: The Lions struggled from beyond the arc and faded in the second half.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores won for the fifth time in six games under Stackhouse, a first-year coach who played in the NBA for 18 seasons.
3’S WOULDN’T FALL
Southeastern Louisiana lost its third straight, missing 15 of 16 shots from 3-point range.
“You’ve got to give credit to Vanderbilt,” Lions coach David Kiefer said. “That’s a well-coached team, they guarded us and we’re not the best shooting team, so that’s not our deal. We had our looks. A couple of them rolled in and out.”
STANDARD IS HIGH’
Vanderbilt won despite shooting just 41% from the floor and getting outscored 42-24 in the paint.
“The best part of tonight to me was walking in that locker room because that’s not a happy team right now,” Stackhouse said. “That lets you know that the standard is high. We didn’t have the performance that we feel like we’re capable of, especially on the defensive end early in the first half.”
Southeastern Louisiana visits Louisiana (4-2) on Dec. 3 after an eight-day Thanksgiving break between games.
Vanderbilt hosts Tulsa (4-1), whose coach, Frank Haith, just coached in his 500th game, on Saturday.
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