Vandy’s Garland rebounds with big night in win over Liberty
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Darius Garland scored a career-high 33 points and his backcourt partner Saben Lee added 17 and Vanderbilt won a battle of unbeaten teams with a 77-70 victory over Liberty on Monday night.
Garland rebounded from an off-night after being held to a career-low three points in Friday’s win over Alcorn State. He hit 12 of 18 from the floor, including five 3-pointers.
The highly-touted freshman point guard was a McDonald’s All-American and five-star prospect at nearby Brentwood Academy last season.
Vanderbilt’s Matt Ryan, a Notre Dame transfer, scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He was ejected after a flagrant foul with 5:21 left.
Vanderbilt (4-0) led most of the way, but Liberty stayed within striking distance until the Commodores finished strong.
Lovell Cabbil led Liberty (3-1) with 16 points, Darius McGhee had 15 and Scottie James added 12 in front of a crowd of 8,493 at Memorial Gym. James is 15-of-17 shooting from the floor in the last three games.
Vanderbilt capped an 11-0 run late in the first half with an alley-oop pass from Garland to Lee, who finished with a dunk for a 34-27 lead. Garland waved his arms above his head in encouragement to the Commodores’ student section after the play.
Garland and Lee connected on a similar play in a season-opening win over Winthrop.
Liberty’s Caleb Homesley, who scored a season-high 16 points in Friday’s win over Kent State, was held to two points on a 1-for-6 shooting night.
Vanderbilt outscored Liberty 18-9 at the foul line.
Liberty won its first three games for its best start since 1999.
The Flames fell to 0-9 against Southeastern Conference teams. Vanderbilt improved to 17-0 against the Big South, including a win over Winthrop in the season opener.
Vanderbilt’s Simi Shittu had eight rebounds and eight points.
Liberty: The Flames finally cooled off after winning their first three games as the Commodores pulled away late.
Vanderbilt: Garland followed a career low with a career high after Alcorn State focused its defense on containing him in Friday’s win over the Braves.
Liberty hosts Alcorn State (1-3) in the first of a two-game homestand Friday.
Vanderbilt hosts Kent State (3-1) on Friday in the third of a four-game homestand.