Vanderbilt Defeats Ole Miss 76-68 2/1/03
Vanderbilt got stellar play once again from junior
Matt Freije who tallied 20 points and a career-high
five steals helping the Commodores defeat the Ole Miss
Rebels 76-68 Saturday night in Memorial Gym. The 'Dores
improved to 10-8, 3-4 as the Rebels drop to 12-6, 3-4.
The Commodores have proven they can beat the big boys
of the SEC, but Vanderbilt has had a tough time putting
two quality wins together. It was important that tonight
the Commodores prove they were for real and the recent
upsets were not just luck.
Vanderbilt knew it had a tough matchup as the Rebels
came into the game with the third best defense in the
nation and the reigning SEC Player of the Week in Aaron
Harper. Vanderbilt's offense answered the test as they
put up 76 points on a defense that only allows 56 points
The Rebels grabbed the early lead and held on for
the first eight minutes of the game. Trailing 12-9,
Freije nailed a three-pointer to even the score. On
the defensive end, Freije stole the ball and raced the
length of the court for a layup that put the 'Dores
up 14-12. Vanderbilt would lead the rest of the way.
But the Commodores could not find an answer for John
Wooden Award candidate Justin Reed. Reed torched the
'Dores for 26 points on 12-of-18 shooting. Every time
Vanderbilt would put a run together, Reed hushed the
crowd with a bucket.
Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings was prepared
for Reed, but senior Emmanuel Wade provided offense
that neither team had seen before. Wade, who came into
the game averaging 7.4 pints per game, exploded for
a career-high 24, including three buckets from long
With the Rebels going zone, Vanderbilt found junior
Scott Hundley floating around the interior. When Hundley
got the ball in the paint, Vanderbilt usually put points
on the board. Either Hundley drove the lane for a foul,
layup, or he kicked the ball out to an open teammate
who knocked down a jumper. Hundley finished the game
with a season-high 18 points and converted eight of
10 free throws.
Vanderbilt went into halftime leading 36-30 after
junior Russell Lakey drained a three-pointer at the
end of the half.
The Commodores pretty much controlled the rest of
the game by pounding the ball down low to sophomore
Brian Thornton. Thornton had 16 points and was a perfect
4-of-4 from the line. Vanderbilt led by as many as 13
at one point, but Ole Miss would just not go away.
In the final five minutes of the game the Rebels put
together a furious rally to try and steal a road win
in the SEC. Trailing by 12, Ole Miss went on a 10-2
run that cut the lead to just four points. The run was
fueled by two threes and a layup by Wade.
But with under 2:00 to play, the Commodores looked
to their primetime player to make a big play. Freije
got the ball and knocked down a baseline jumper that
ended the Rebel rally.
The Commodores hit the road for an SEC-West matchup
with No. 21 Mississippi State Wednesday February 5th
at 7 pm CT.