Vanderbilt beats Austin Peay, spoils Figgers’ debut, 73-54
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A healthy Jeff Roberson is a dangerous Jeff Roberson.
The 6-foot-6 forward showcased that with a double-double that included 13 points and 10 rebounds in Vanderbilt’s 73-54 win over Austin Peay in a season opener Friday night.
“He played last year not at 100 percent,” Commodores coach Bryce Drew said. “He was injured, he had surgery in the offseason on his groin. I think a couple times as you guys saw him go to the rim and rebound or jump it was a different level than what he did last year.”
The senior grabbed seven offensive rebounds.
“We couldn’t take him off the floor because he was doing so many good things on the defensive end, rebounding and things he always does,” Drew said. “I thought he was just solid throughout the whole game.”
Riley LaChance and Clevon Brown also scored 13 points for the Commodores, who hit 9 of 25 3-pointers.
The loss spoiled the debut of Austin Peay’s first-year coach Matt Figger, a former South Carolina assistant.
He replaced Dave Loos, who retired in March after 27 years as the Governors coach.
Roberson hit a 3-point milestone 18 seconds into the game on Vanderbilt’s first shot, which gave the Commodores their 1,000th consecutive game with a 3-pointer.
“Riley and I actually talked about that and I was like, whoever got the first look it was going up,” Roberson said. “He said as soon as he passed it to me he knew I was going to shoot it. So it went in and it was good just to play basketball.”
Princeton and Nevada-Las Vegas are the only other teams with a 3-pointer in every game since the inception of the 3-pointer in 1985.
Vanderbilt has won 16 of 17 games against Austin Peay in the series.
Freshman Terry Taylor was Austin Peay’s only scorer in double figure with a game-high 15 points.
“This summer, before the school year started, I told him that I feel like he could be a guy that, down the road, could be Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year,” APSU point guard Zach Glotta said. “I think he can be really special and he showed it tonight. I mean, first college game he hits his first two shots from outside. He’s confident, but a humble guy, too.”
The Commodores return three of their top four scorers from last year’s team that made a second straight NCAA tournament appearance.
Vanderbilt freshman Saben Lee had seven assists off the bench.
The Commodores took charge early, taking a 41-28 halftime lead.
“I felt like our execution on offense wasn’t any good,” Figger said. “And I give Vanderbilt all the credit for that. They did some things to get us off-kilt.”
Austin Peay is a work in progress with nine new players on the roster.
Vanderbilt is off to a good start with a healthy Roberson, who battled injuries last season.
FRESHMAN STARTS WELL
Lee, a 6-2 guard from Phoenix, got the crowd of 8,609 going with a monster dunk in the first half. “He had a stretch there where I thought his speed was a big difference,” Drew said. “We were able to get some turnovers and with his speed we got the ball up the court very fast. Clevon had some dunks in that stretch. I was really impressed with (Lee’s) seven assists. That’s a lot of assists in 20 minutes of play and hopefully he’ll be able to continue to do that.”
Austin Peay’s defense impressed Drew. “They defend and do things like South Carolina, which is in our league,” Drew said. “They do a great job taking you out of offense and making you basically go one on one. They do a great job taking charges so I definitely think their defense will be big for them this year.”
Austin Peay visits Virginia on Monday in a matchup against the team that ranked No. 1 nationally in points allowed (56.4) last season.
Vanderbilt heads down the road to visit Belmont on Monday as the Bruins adjust to life without their Division I era career scoring leader, Evan Bradds (1,921 points).