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Strong first half propels Memphis past Vanderbilt

Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway work with his team against Vanderbilt during the first half at Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.

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Credit: Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Forward DeAndre Williams scored 17 points and guard Kendric Davis added 17 to lift visiting Memphis to a 76-67 win over Vanderbilt at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday evening.

Memphis’ aggressive 2-3 zone held the Commodores to 41.1% shooting. The Tigers never trailed and led by as many as 19.

Guard Alex Lomax chipped in with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for the Tigers (1-0). Davis, an SMU transfer and the reigning American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, added six assists and two steals in his Tiger debut.

Guard Tyrin Lawrence led Vanderbilt (0-1) in scoring with 14 points and forward Myles Stute added 12.

Vandy, playing its first game in three years without star point guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (now with the Lakers) struggled to get good looks. Forward Jordan Wright, Vandy’s leading returning scorer (12.3 points per game last season) was held to seven points on 2-of-5 shooting.

Memphis took its second 17-point lead (and first of the second half) when Lomax drove the right side and converted a layup with 15:38 left.

The Tigers extended the lead to 49-30 on guard Elijah McCadden’s corner 3 with 14:35 remaining.

The Commodores trailed by double digits for most of the second half, but got within 55-47 on guard Trey Thomas’s 3 from the left side with 7:06 left. The Tigers erased that quickly, going back up 62-47 when Davis hit an open 3 from the left side.

Vandy answered with a pair of Lawrence free throws and then Memphis’s Williams responded with a 3 with 4:21 left to make the lead 16.

The Commodores didn’t get within single digits again until forward Liam Robbins’s 3 with 39 seconds left.

Memphis out-shot Vandy 51.9% to 30% and out-rebounded the Commodores 22-13 in taking a 34-22 advantage at the break.

Memphis, between its full-court pressing and an aggressive half-court zone, forced Vandy into a slow offensive tempo and allowed it few open looks.

The Commodores were 2-for-17 to start the evening from the field and trailed 19-6 after Memphis’s Kao Akobundu-Ehiogu’s put-back dunk with 9:26 left the first half.

The Tigers extended the lead to 28-11when Williams rammed home a fast-break dunk with 5:30 left in the half.

Vanderbilt forward Emmanuel Ansong, playing his first game for the Commodores, took a hard fall with 5:37 left in the game. He remained on the floor for several minutes as trainers looked at his head and didn’t return.

–Field Level Media