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Vanderbilt’s freshmen key 82-78 road win over USC

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The Commodores improved to 2-0 on the season.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Southern California Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt’s first road game of the season would provide a tough test for the Commodores’ two freshmen stars, Darius Garland and Simi Shittu.

Consider that test passed with flying colors. Garland scored 21 points, Shittu had 14 points and 15 rebounds, and the team’s third freshman, Aaron Nesmith, chipped in 10 points as the Commodores went into the Galen Center and beat the USC Trojans, 82-78.

Things got off to a bumpy start as Vanderbilt wasn’t getting shots to fall — the Commodores would end the game shooting just 38 percent from the floor — but they managed to manufacture some offense by hitting the glass, with 15 offensive rebounds in the first half and 25 for the game. That was good enough to fuel the Commodores to a 42-36 lead at halftime even in spite of some major woes at the foul line — Vanderbilt missed its first six free throw attempts and would finish the game 19-of-30 at the stripe.

But when the game was on the line, the Commodores came through. Over the final 2:14 of the game, Vanderbilt made 11-of-12 at the line to prevent a USC comeback and escape with a win.

In addition to the fine performances from the freshmen, the team’s lone senior, Joe Toye, finished the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds. The Commodores will be back in action on Friday when Alcorn State comes to Memorial Gym.