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Hot-shooting Vanderbilt downs Northeastern, 79-49

January 5, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt shooters caught on fire while warming up for the Southeastern Conference portion of the schedule.

Rod Odom had a career-high 21 points, Damian Jones scored 16 and Eric McClellan added 14 to lead the Commodores’ torrid shooting performance in a 79-49 blowout of Northeastern on Saturday.

Odom, with four 3-pointers, and McClellan, with a pair of treys, were perfect from beyond the arc for Vanderbilt (8-4).  The Commodores shot 76.0 percent from the field the first half and 83.3 from 3-point range (5 of 6) to lead 46-18 at intermission.

“It helps us a lot, especially after a low-scoring game like Saint Louis where they really shut us down and they really gave us a lot of trouble,” Odom said. “So I feel like this gives us a lot of confidence going forward.”

Reggie Spencer led the Huskies (3-11) with 15 points, and David Walker hit three treys in the second half. Northeastern had defeated Georgetown earlier, and seven of its 10 previous losses had been by five points or less.

“I also thought that our defensive play was solid and so maybe the best two-ended effort that we’ve had this season,” Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said. “We certainly haven’t put anybody away like that. That is a good team that doesn’t have a great record right now. They’ve beaten Georgetown, they’ve had an extremely tough schedule and have lost a ton of close games.”

The Commodores made 17 of their first 22 shots for a 77.3 field-goal percentage. At one point, VU hit nine straight field goals - going 8 ½ minutes without a miss.

Odom’s 3-pointer that extended the lead to 44-17 pushed Vanderbilt’s percentage to 78.3, one game after the Commodores had their poorest shooting performance in Monday’s loss to Saint Louis.

“You never expect to shoot the ball like that,” Stallings said.

McClellan missed one shot on his way to 12 first-half points and was 4-for-4 on free throws for the game. Kyle Fuller didn’t miss at all to finish with 11 points, while Jones also had six blocks for Vanderbilt.

Referees even waived off Jones’ turn-around desperation shot that banked in at the buzzer, after he initially bobbled the pass.

McClellan scored eight straight points for Vanderbilt - including two 3-pointers, the first after his steal — for an early 10-4 lead.  He had 12 points in the first 8 minutes. His second steal led to Kyle Fuller’s fast-break layup and an 18-8 advantage.

“Eric hit some shots and got us off to a really good start, and then other guys kind of jumped in,” Stallings said. “I thought his shooting, his penetration, just his speed he played with were very effective for us and a key to how we started the game. And obviously the start led into how we continued to play.”

Marco Banegas-Flores cut it to 18-11 on his trey, but the Commodores doubled up the score 28-14 on Dai-Jon Parker’s 3.

Fuller stretched it to 31-15 on an over-the-shoulder reverse after dropping the ball as the shot clock expired.

Jones scored eight straight points including a dunk as Vanderbilt stretched it to 39-15, and Odom’s jumper made it 41-15 to cap a 20-2 run.

The Huskies, meanwhile, missed nine straight field goals between Spencer’s jumper at 10:07 to pull within 21-13 and his layup 2:34 before halftime at 41-17.

Vanderbilt finished 30 of 48 from the field (62.5 percent) and was 8 for 12 on 3-pointers (66.7 percent). The Commodores also had 21 assists, led by seven from Parker.

 “I think when the guys are making plays for each other, it’s a lot easier for guys to score,” Odom said. “It’s a lot easier to make shots when you’re getting wide-open shots as opposed to contested shots you’re creating for yourself. I think that played a big part in why we shot so well.”

Northeastern arrived early in Nashville on Thursday due to weather concerns and will return to Boston Sunday to prepare for Wednesday’s Colonial Athletic Association opener against UNC-Wilmington.

Vanderbilt visits Alabama in its SEC opener on Tuesday.

“This was an excellent performance and the kind of performance that you want going into league play,” Stallings said.

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