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Aaron Nesmith carries Vanderbilt over UNC Wilmington, 88-73

Nesmith tied his career high with 34 points.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 18 Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase - Vanderbilt v Loyola Chicago Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Aaron Nesmith got an early start on Saturday night. Nesmith hit a three-pointer for Vanderbilt’s first points of the game, extending the Commodores’ streak to 1076 consecutive games with a made three-pointer, and a hot first half saw Nesmith score 20 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting as Vanderbilt built a 42-32 lead at the break over the UNC Wilmington Seahawks. No other Commodore had more than five points in the first half — though that was a list that included Oton Jankovic, who scored the first points of his Vanderbilt career on a first-half dunk, and Braelee Albert, who joined the team as a walk-on and promptly hit a corner three in his first action. Vanderbilt was without both Clevon Brown and Ejike Obinna on Saturday night, necessitating action for players like Jankovic and Albert.

Vanderbilt scored the first four points of the second half to go up 46-32, and for the next ten minutes or so Vanderbilt seemed to perpetually lead by about fifteen points — Vanderbilt never really went on a run to put the game out of reach, but UNC Wilmington also never threatened to come back into the game. Then, a flurry just before the under-8 media timeout finally extended the lead: Saben Lee made a lightning-quick drive to the basket for a layup, and then Jordan Wright stole the ensuing inbounds pass for two more, and following a UNC Wilmington miss, Max Evans scored a layup and got fouled to give Vanderbilt a 72-51 lead with 6:49 left in the game.

Vanderbilt seemed to have the game in hand, but UNC Wilmington went on a 11-0 run to cut the lead to 78-67 with 2:22 left. The final was 88-73. Aaron Nesmith finished the game tying a career high with 34 points; Saben Lee, with 14 points, was the only other Commodore in double figures. UNC Wilmington shot 50 percent from the floor and 60 percent from three, but committed 23 turnovers. Vanderbilt is off nine days before hosting Davidson on December 30.