NASHVILLE, Tenn.—No. 15 Vanderbilt had mostly used offense to get off to a 12-0 start coming into Saturday's contest against Iona at Memorial Gymnasium. But for a few moments in Saturday's 97-73 rout over the Gaels, it was defense that paved the way.
After the same Iona team that had scored 36 on Saturday against Louisville lit Vandy up for 41 in the first half, the Commodores forced six turnovers and held Iona to two-of-11 shooting in the first 8:58 of the second half. It keyed a 26-5 run that broke the game open for good, as Vandy established a school record with its 13th-consecutive victory to start the season.
"I thought we were sharp coming out of the locker room, obviously, a stark contrast to two days ago coming out of the locker room at half," Coach Kevin Stallings said, referring to VU's 92-85 defeat of Tennessee-Martin on Saturday. "That was really the difference in the game. We came out and blew it open at the start of the second half."
"We just lost our intensity," Iona Coach Kevin Willard said regarding Vandy's run to start the half. "Give them a lot of credit. They're a tremendous basketball team."
The highlight of the spurt came in the first 1:56, when Andrew Ogilvy opened the half with a dunk and Ross Neltner followed on the next possession with a spinning layup in the lane to give VU a 50-41 lead. Jermaine Beal followed with a three-point play on a layup and a foul shot, then added a 3 from the left side to extend the margin to 15.
Iona's Kyle Camper followed with a 3, but Vandy answered with a pair of free throws from Ogilvy, two more from Alan Metcalfe and Shan Foster's 3 from the left side for a 63-44 advantage. The Gaels never cut the lead within 17 again.
"We came on. Coach was just like, 'You guys just need to go out and play hard.' We've been working on getting pressure on the ball, on getting stops and rebounds. When you play hard on defense, it helps carry over into offense," Metcalfe said.
"We were playing extremely hard [in the first half], we just weren't playing disciplined," Foster added.
Foster and Ogilvy each scored 20 for the Commodores, and Metcalfe (14) and George Drake (10) each scored in double-figures.
Though Iona shot 49.1 percent for the game, the Commodores forced 20 turnovers and used the foul line to their advantage. Vandy converted 30-of-38 shots from the charity stripe while the Gaels hit just 12 of 14 behind the line.
Ogilvy's points came on just six shots from the field, as he converted 12-of-13 free throws. The freshman center added a game-high nine rebounds.
"I asked him how he did that. He said, it's those five-point shots that he takes," Stallings quipped.
VU also converted 11 of 20 3-pointers, led by Foster's five-of-11 from long range.
Vanderbilt takes on Rice at Memorial Gym on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. Central.