Vanderbilt used a 12-day break for final exams to figure out how to play without freshman Darius Garland.
Saben Lee scored 14 points to lead five players in double figures and sharp-shooting Vanderbilt beat No. 18 Arizona State 81-65 on Monday night in Nashville, Tennessee.
Vanderbilt snapped an eight-game skid against ranked opponents that dated to an overtime win over Florida in the 2017 Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Commodores (7-2) also beat Arizona State for the first time in five tries on the Sun Devils’ first visit to Memorial Gym.
They did it without Garland, a touted freshman who tore the meniscus in his left knee in a loss to Kent State on Nov. 23.
“It’s huge for us,” Vanderbilt junior forward Yanni Wetzel said. “We obviously lost a critical piece a couple weeks back and to get this win that just shows the resilience of this team and that we can put the next man up mentality. And I think we definitely showed that tonight.”
The Commodores had a big night from beyond the arc, hitting 6 of 12 from deep in the first half and 12 of 28 for the game.
Aaron Nesmith added 13 points off the bench for Vanderbilt. Wetzell had 12, and Matt Ryan and Joe Toye had 11 each. The Commodores’ bench outscored Arizona State’s 36-21.
Arizona State, which moved up two spots in the AP Top 25 earlier Monday, has lost two of three.
“We got to get back home, get back to the drawing board, watch the film and see how we can be more effective offensively,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “It’s hard to put that much pressure on your defense, especially on the road. We didn’t make shots. We shot 32 percent, and that’s not going to win you a lot of games.”
Rob Edwards led Arizona State (8-2) with 14 points. Luguentz Dort came in as the fourth-highest freshman scorer in the nation averaging 20.9 points, but he had just 10 points. Zylan Cheatham had 14 rebounds.
This was the first game after the Commodores’ finals break and is the second part of a home-and-home deal with Arizona State. The Sun Devils won 76-64 in Tempe last season.
Arizona State opened by scoring the first nine points as Vanderbilt missed its first six shots. After that, the Commodores finished the first half outscoring the Sun Devils 34-19, including an 18-3 run over the final 6:49.
“Really proud of how we responded,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said. “Obviously, the start wasn’t how we planned it going down 9-zero, but guys really fought back and played with a lot of energy the rest of the game.”
(11) Florida State 85, Southeast Missouri 68: In Tallahassee, Florida, Trent Forrest scored a career-high 23 points and freshman Devin Vassell added 16 points as No. 11 Florida State overcame a sluggish first half and beat Southeast Missouri.
Forrest shot 8 for 12 from the floor, and had a team-high eight rebounds and four assists to help the Seminoles (9-1) win their fourth straight.
Florida State secured its 30th straight nonconference home win. Nebraska is the last nonconference team to defeat the Seminoles, 70-65 on Dec. 1, 2014.
Ledarrius Brewer scored 16 points and Skyler Hogan added 14 points for Southeast Missouri (5-7).
Christ Koumadje added seven rebounds as Florida State outrebounded the undersized Redhawks 46-28.
Southeast Missouri led 47-42 with 14:46 to go but Florida State went on a 12-0 run to take control for good.
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