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Isaiah Rice’s first career field goal sparks run, Vanderbilt beats Buffalo 90-76

Vanderbilt beat a team that won 32 games last season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 25 Southeastern Louisiana at Vanderbilt Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With 6:21 left in the first half, the Vanderbilt Commodores were tied 26-26 with the Buffalo Bulls, the team had not made a three-pointer, and star sophomore Aaron Nesmith had not scored a point.

During a media timeout, Jerry Stackhouse inserted walk-on Isaiah Rice into the game — per the Vanderbilt Hustler’s Twitter account, this was the first time that Rice had ever gotten into a game in the first half, and entering Tuesday night’s game, the junior had appeared in eight games in his Vanderbilt career, logged fifteen minutes, attempted two field goals and two free throws, and scored one point.

After Buffalo got out to a 30-26 lead, with 5:34 to go in the first half, Saben Lee found Rice in the corner — and Rice shot. And scored. Rice’s first career field goal extended Vanderbilt’s streak to 1,072 games with a made three-pointer and sparked a 21-4 run to close out the first half, punctuated by a Clevon Brown three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Commodores a 47-34 lead going into halftime.

In the second half, Buffalo never got within 11 points as Vanderbilt pulled away. The Commodores handled a Buffalo press with relative ease — after years of Kevin Stallings teams behaving as though they literally did not understand the concept of a full-court press, you have no idea how good this was to see — and this game was only in doubt because you were completely scarred by memories of the 2018-19 basketball season.

The final was 90-76. Saben Lee led four Commodores in double figures with a career-high 25. Aaron Nesmith quietly had 16, Clevon Brown had 14, and Maxwell Evans had 13. Vanderbilt is now 6-2 on the season and has 11 days off for finals before playing Liberty on December 14.