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NCAAB: Scotty Pippen Jr. steers injury-bitten Vandy into opener with Alabama State

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One reason Vanderbilt struggled to win games last year is because it simply couldn’t stay healthy. The Commodores saw 12 players miss a total of 62 games due to injury or illness and finished the season 9-16.

Heading into Wednesday night’s season opener with Alabama State in Nashville, Vanderbilt is in the same boat.

Its two highly touted graduate transfers, guard Rodney Chatman (knee) and center Liam Robbins (foot), are probably on the sidelines for several weeks.

Coach Jerry Stackhouse is opting for a glass half-full approach.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be good for us,” he said. “We felt great about where we were having a really veteran team. That’s just how fickle this thing is. We still feel good … in the long run it’s going to be really good for us.”

Stackhouse can afford to feel optimistic with Scotty Pippen Jr. leading the charge.

Pippen averaged 20.8 points and 4.9 assists per game last season, the highest-scoring season for a Commodore in 21 years.

The preseason Southeastern Conference Player of the Year made 25 straight free throws in two SEC Tournament games.

Vanderbilt was picked 13th in the SEC’s preseason media poll, a ranking that might seem rather insulting with healthy versions of Chatman and Robbins.

Meanwhile, Alabama State (0-1) rolls into town for its second game in as many nights. The Hornets led for most of the game’s first 36 minutes Tuesday night before Western Kentucky finally rallied for a 79-74 win in Bowling Green, Ky.

Wyoming transfer Trace Young pumped in a game-high 23 points in his first game for Alabama State and freshman Juan Reyna added 16 in his college debut. The Hornets hit 48.3 percent of shots from the field and 9 of 22 on 3-pointers, but were outscored 17-9 at the foul line.

“We were prepared and ready for the moment,” Alabama State coach Mo Williams dsof. “The beauty about this thing is that we play in less than 24 hours.”

This will be the first meeting between the Commodores and Hornets.

–Field Level Media

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