NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Freshman Damian Jones and senior Rod Odom each scored 19 points to help Vanderbilt pull away for a season-opening win against visiting Georgia State, 86-80, Tuesday night.
The victory tied Commodores coach Kevin Stallings for most wins as Vanderbilt head coach (278) with Roy Skinner (1961-76).Odom hit five 3-pointers for the game and sank a pair of free throws with 9.8 seconds for an 84-80 lead. Eric McClellan, a transfer from Tulsa, added 18 points in his debut, including two fouls shots for the final points.GSU transfer Ryan Harrow, who started 24 games last season for Kentucky, had a game-high 27 points for the Panthers (1-1). R.J. Hunter scored 21 points including three 3-pointers for Georgia State.Jones hit a jumper and Dai-Jon Parker sank a 3-pointer to push Vanderbilt ahead 78-73. VU's Kyle Fuller then hit a pair of free throws with 45.1 seconds left for the largest lead (80-74) since 8:09 remaining.Devonta White's two free throws had cut it to 82-80 with 10 seconds remaining for the Panthers, picked as a preseason Sun Belt favorite in several national media outlets. GSU is now 4-28 against Southeastern Conference teams.Curtis Washington scored seven straight points as GSU built a 46-42 advantage early in the second half, capped by White's pull-up jumper.McClellan's second 3-pointer put Vanderbilt back ahead 57-54, while Jones blocked a shot on the other end and Shelby Moats' basket stretched it to 59-54. The Commodores took their largest lead with 8:09 left, 64-58, on Odom's third trey and his assist to Moats forced a Panthers timeout.Georgia State came out hot as four different shooters sank 3-pointers to take a 12-7 lead with just over 4 minutes to play.Odom hit two 3s for Vanderbilt early, closing it to 12-9. Jones then gave the Commodores a boost off the bench with five straight points including a dunk to launch a 10-2 run for a 20-16 lead.There were eight lead changes the first half and two times. Harrow hit two free throws, then had a steal and layup to start a 9-2 spurt and put the Panthers ahead 25-22.But Dai-Jon Parker hit two treys during an 11-2 run that gave Vanderbilt its largest first-half lead at 33-27. Harrow had four points as GSU outscored VU to pull within 35-34 at halftime.Stallings, in his 15th season at Vanderbilt, is now 14-1 in season-openers.