NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)DeAndre Williams scored 17 points, and the Memphis Tigers never trailed in routing the Vanderbilt Commodores 76-67 in the season opener for both teams.
These Tennessee programs separated by about 200 miles hadn’t played each other since 2005, and credit for scheduling the 14th game between these teams goes to the coaches – both former NBA All-Stars. Memphis hadn’t started a season with a true road game since losing to Arkansas on Dec. 2, 1992.
That was the start of Penny Hardaway’s last season with the Tigers as a player. Now the Memphis coach and his Tigers just ended an NCAA Tournament drought with their first berth since 2014 last March. Jerry Stackhouse coached Vanderbilt to its first winning season since 2016-17 and to the NIT quarterfinals.
Hardaway has a very experienced team after a trip to the transfer portal for six Division I players, and his starting lineup featured all seniors or fifth-year players led by Kendric Davis, the reigning American Athletic Conference player of the year. He added 16 points, and Alex Lomax had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Tyrin Lawrence led Vanderbilt with 14 points, and Myles Stute had 12.
Memphis opened with a layup by Williams, and Alex Lomax added a jumper in the first minute. Stute answered with a 3, but that was as close as Vanderbilt would get. The Commodores went 2 of 14 outside the arc as Memphis just kept scoring with dunks, layups and short jumpers.
The Tigers led by as much as 28-11 before taking a 34-22 lead into halftime. They pushed that to 49-30 in the opening minutes of the second half. Vanderbilt’s best run came when Trey Thomas’ 3 got the Commodores within 55-47 with 7:06 left with Memphis going more than 5 minutes without a field goal.
Davis hit a pair of free throws, then Malcolm Dandridge added two more. Davis hit a 3 to end the Tigers’ drought with 5:13 for a 62-47 lead.
Memphis: The Tigers will need to work on their 3-point shooting after going 5 of 19. Shooting inside Memorial Gym, the Southeastern Conference’s oldest gym, can be a challenge with the elevated floor. … Nine Tigers wound up scoring.
Vanderbilt: Stackhouse also went to the portal with his biggest additions Manjon from UC Davis to replace Scotty Pippen Jr. as his point guard. He also added forward Emmanuel Ansong from Wisconsin-Green Bay. … The Commodores went 2 of 14 beyond the arc in the first half but 10 of 16 in the second. … Ansong hit the court hard on a foul late in the second half and stayed on the court for a few minutes before walking to the bench.
Memphis visits Saint Louis on Nov. 15.
Vanderbilt hosts Southern Miss on Friday night.
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