Nesmith powers Vanderbilt past UNC Wilmington, 88-73

Aaron Nesmith tied a career-high with 34 points, Saben Lee added 14, and Vanderbilt overpowered North Carolina-Wilmington for an 88-73 victory

NASHVILLE -- It was a big night for Aaron Nesmith as the Vanderbilt sophomore tied his career high with 34 points by hitting a career-tying 7 3-pointers on 10 attempts and was 9 of 11 from the free throw line.

While Commodores coach Jerry Stackhouse was impressed with Nesmith’s performance, he wasn’t very happy with the rest of his team’s play in an 88-73 Vanderbilt victory over North Carolina-Wilmington on Saturday night.

“For us to be a good team, we have got to get more contributions from more guys,” Stackhouse said. “It’s not just about (Nesmith) having a big 25-point or 30-point game. It would be better for our team maybe if he had 20, and we could get some contributions in other areas, because that’s what we are going to need. That’s the way we have to play to be a good team.”

Saben Lee added 14 points for Vanderbilt (7-4).

Vanderbilt held its largest lead at 78-56 with 4:44 to go in the game, but UNC-Wilmington went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 11 on a Jalen Sims 3-pointer at 2:23. The Seahawks (5-8) never got closer.

“The thing that really hurt us is our turnovers,” said UNC-Wilmington coach C.B. McGrath, whose team committed 23. “We shot a really good percentage, we were taking good shots, but when you turn it over it’s just hard to overcome.”

Sims led the Seahawks with 19 points. Mike Okauru threw in 12, Kai Toews added 11, and Brian Tolefree had 10.

Nesmith entered the game third in the nation in 3-pointers made per game (4.0) and hit that many in the first half as Vanderbilt took a 42-32 lead with Nesmith accounting for 20.

UNC-Wilmington traded baskets early, then used an 8-2 run to tie the game at 13 at 12:23 in the first half. Vanderbilt built its biggest lead of the half at 42-29 on a layup and free-throw by Lee, but the Seahawks answered with a 3-pointer by Sims at the buzzer.

Despite being without their best inside offensive threat and leading rebounder, Clevon Brown, who missed his second game in a row with a knee injury, the Commodores outscored UNC-Wilmington 30-22 in the paint.

OTHER STATS

UNC-Wilmington: The Seahawks were better from the 3-point line (60% to 44%) and free-throw line (84.6% to 79.3%) than the Commodores. They also shot 49% from the field overall to Vanderbilt’s 48.2%.

Vanderbilt: Nesmith is the first Commodore to eclipse the 30-point mark in Memorial Gym since Darius Garland went for 33 against Liberty on Nov. 19, 2018.

BIG PICTURE

Vanderbilt: Coming off two straight losses, the Commodores look to get some key contributors healthy and back in the rotation.

UNC-Wilmington: The young Seahawks want to end their losing ways in December. They have lost four in a row this season, and 11 consecutively in the month since 2017.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt will try to keep its winning ways intact by hosting Davidson on Dec. 30 after a holiday break.

UNC-Wilmington travels to Delaware on Dec. 28.

UNC-Wilmington: The young Seahawks want to end their losing ways in December. They have lost four in a row and 11 straight December games since 2017.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt will try to keep its winning ways intact by hosting Davidson on Dec. 30 after a holiday break.

UNC-Wilmington travels to Delaware on Dec. 28.