Myles Stute was sick earlier in the week. He didn't practice much. Jerry Stackhouse didn't even know if he would play until shortly before Monday's game.
It was a good thing he did.
After a slow start, Vanderbilt came back to dominate the second half against Mississippi Valley State and win, 75-36, at home. Stute led the team with 20 points, including six 3-pointers despite checking out with 11 minutes to go.
"I was just out there hooping," Stute said. "My teammates kept finding me and I just kept letting it go, finding myself in open spots, finding little gaps in the defense, kept shooting the ball and it kept going in."
Vanderbilt improved to 5-1.
Sloppy first half
Mississippi Valley State rates out as the worst team in Division I by KenPom, but that didn't stop Vanderbilt from playing sloppy ball in the first half. The offense seemed lethargic at times, shooting just 32% from the field. At halftime, the Commodores led by just nine points and, although the outcome never seemed in question, it was a slim margin considering the talent gap.
Of course, Vanderbilt outscored the Delta Devils 49-19 in the second half, making those struggles moot.
"Just came out with a little more fire," Stute said. "I think we kind of really eased into the game and let them feel comfortable. That's not what we wanted to do at all. So I think that second half, we came out and just hit them a little harder. We got them to fall a little bit easier."
21-1 run to start the 2nd half
To start the second half, the Commodores finally looked like an SEC team against one of the worst programs in the country. Thanks to a barrage of threes from Stute and Scotty Pippen Jr., Vanderbilt went on a 21-1 run over the first eight minutes that broke the game open. Not only did the shooting heat up, but the defense clamped down even more. The Delta Devils missed their final 11 shots.
Stute shot 6-for-11 from the field and had six rebounds and two blocks and finished highest among Commodores in plus-minus at plus-31. Junior guard Pippen . also finished in double digits with 12 points, four rebounds and five assists.
"Our defense was really good in the first half again and that continued in the second half, we pulled away," Stackhouse said. "I thought we were a little bit, the ball was sticking again in the first half, and we got it to Myles Stute, who's been sick the past couple days, hasn't really been able to practice, glad he decided to show up."
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Vanderbilt basketball beat Mississippi Valley State with dominant half