Vanderbilt vs. Notre Dame
63 - 76
December 30, 2002
South Bend, Ind.


Final Box Score & Play-by-Play

Updated Cumulative Stats


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Fastbreak dunks, long runs and an angry visiting coach energized Notre Dame in the first half, and the Irish played like a team worthy of its best ranking in 21 years.Then the second half brought a reminder that a high rating usually brings out the opposition's best effort.

Chris Thomas scored 19 points and Matt Carroll added 15 as Notre Dame (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) held off a late run to beat Vanderbilt 76-63 on Monday night.

"I think we got a little lazy,'' said Torrian Jones, who scored 12 points. "We got a big lead and expected them to roll over like some of the past teams we played. They didn't.''

The Irish (11-1), who have won seven straight, are off to their best start since they were 12-1 to open the 1978-79 season. They hold their highest AP ranking since being No. 4 in January 1981.

It looked like the Irish would cruise after a taking a 20-point lead in the first half. Then sloppy play early in the second allowed the Commodores (6-4) to rally.The Irish had 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the second half and Vanderbilt, which struggled offensively in the first half, took advantage.

The Commodores scored 16 points off turnovers in the second half, helping cut the gap to six. Matt Freije, who scored 23 points, and Russell Lakey, with 12, each hit 3-pointers during a 19-7 run that sliced the deficit to 60-54.

Irish coach Mike Brey then called a timeout and challenged his team.

"He challenged us to play defense the way we had all season long,'' Jones said. "We definitely knew we had a little game pressure on us.''

Thomas and Freije swapped two free throws each and Notre Dame's lead stayed at six with 8:27 left.

The Irish then responded to Brey's message. They closed the game on a 14-7 run, as Vanderbilt missed 10 shots in the final eight minutes.

Notre Dame sealed the win at the end with free throws. The Irish went 21-for-29 from the line and improved to 8-0 at home and put behind them a disappointing second-half effort.

Brey said the Irish needed a reminder that every game wouldn't be easy as their last two, which they won by a combined total of 49 points.

"You think it's going to be showtime for 20 minutes in the second and it isn't,'' he said. "But I like the way we reacted.''

Torin Francis had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Irish. Julian Terrell had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Vanderbilt.

Notre Dame shot 57 percent in the first half and forced 12 turnovers.They disrupted Vanderbilt's offense and agitated coach Kevin Stallings.

Stallings wasn't happy with the officiating. Late in the first half, he came out of the coaches box to argue what he felt was a missed foul call. Two minutes later his coat came off and shortly after that he was whistled for a technical for arguing a foul against the Commodores.

Carroll hit all four free throws, extending the lead to 37-20. The Irish took a 45-27 lead into halftime.

Stallings was much more subdued with his team at halftime.

"I didn't go in and tear anything off the wall because I thought Notre Dame played very well,'' he said.


Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
615-322-GOLD (4653)