Scotty Pippen Jr. says he has trouble going to sleep the night before the game, and now he’s facing the challenge of a four-hour time difference from which he is accustomed at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.
But it sure didn’t affect his play in the opener of the Diamond Head Classic. Pippen gets a chance to post another strong outing in Honolulu when Vanderbilt (7-4) opposes BYU (10-2) in Thursday’s semifinals.
Pippen seemed to be right at home in the first round on Wednesday, when he contributed 21 points and four steals as the Commodores posted a 68-54 win over host Hawaii.
As Pippen noted on the school’s radio postgame show, “The time difference is kind of weird out here, but I kind of like it.”
There were a lot of things to like, as Vanderbilt never trailed and led by as many as 19 points.
The Commodores forced 21 turnovers and had a 29-5 advantage in bench points.
But Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse saw his team go 5-for-22 from 3-point range, while Hawaii’s Noel Coleman operated at will and scored a career-best 31 points.
Stackhouse knows the caliber of play will have to be higher against BYU.
“At the end of the day, we did enough to secure the win,” Stackhouse said on the postgame show. “You come to this type of environment and there are all kinds of distractions. We scouted (BYU) a little bit and we’ll go to work on them and we’ll be ready to go.”
BYU scored its fewest points of the season in its 54-39 win over South Florida on Wednesday. The Cougars shot just 36.0 percent from the field.
Reserves Gideon George and Fousseyni Traore led BYU with 11 points apiece.
Cougars leading scorer Alex Barcello had a season-low 10 points to drop his average to 18.9.
On the defensive end, BYU gave up its fewest points of the season and limited South Florida to 25.8 percent from the field, including 2 of 21 from 3-point range.
“I was proud of our guys, how they managed the frustration that South Florida can cause,” Cougars coach Mark Pope said afterward. “They kept moving the ball and kept fighting. It was a great win.”
Vanderbilt won the lone previous meeting with BYU, 89-56 on Jan. 2, 1958.
–Field Level Media