NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A near perfect performance from the field at the start of the second half proved to be the key in Vanderbilt's 80-65 season-opening victory over Nicholls State on Saturday.
The Commodores began the first three minutes converting on 8-of-8 shots including a blistering 5-of-5 from behind the arc, extending a modest six-point lead at the half to a commanding 44-29 lead that VU never quite relinquished.
Sophomore point guard Kedren Johnson led all scorers with a career-high 25 points, shooting 8-of-14 from the field including three successful conversions from three. The local product also six assists and six rebounds in the win.
Junior guard Kyle Fuller also posted a career-high 15 points and true freshman forward Kevin Bright scored 15 with a perfect 3-of-3 from three. He also led the team with 8 rebounds.
The three Commodores were huge during the opening stretch in the second half, as Fuller got things started with a three. A few moments later, Johnson nailed his own three to stretch the Commodore lead out to 12 points.
Following a three by Nicholls State's TJ Carpenter, Bright took his man off the dribble for a layup. That was soon followed with Fuller scoring on a layup of his own.
Vanderbilt and Nicholls traded three's a few moments later, but the Commodores moved the lead to 15 with a three by Bright.
Vanderbilt stretched the lead out to as much as 20 points on two separate occasions, before Nicholls closed the gap somewhat in the final minutes of garbage time.
Vanderbilt shot 68-percent from the field during the second half and was 8-of-11 from behind the arc. The success was a welcome sight to Commodore fans that saw the team struggle from the field in the game's first 20 minutes, converting just 33.3-percent in the first half.
The Commodores committed six turnovers in the first half, but finished the game with just 10. VU also posted 17 assists as a team.
Nicholls State was led by Fred Hunter's 21 points while Sam McBeath added 15.
Vanderbilt will return to action return to action on Friday, November 16th with a trip to Oregon. Tip-off for that game is slated for 10 p.m. CT.