How Jerry Stackhouse designed Vanderbilt basketball buzzer-beater vs. Tennessee

How Jerry Stackhouse designed Vanderbilt basketball buzzer-beater vs. Tennessee

When Tyrin Lawrence’s wide-open 3-pointer found the bottom of the net, buzzer blaring, Lawrence was confident he’d gotten the shot off.

Not so much for coach Jerry Stackhouse.

“I wasn’t asking the scorekeeper. He was like, we don’t know, was trying to get a heads up and then (referee) Tony Greene came over there and said it was good,” Stackhouse said. “We were going to look at it, but it was good. I couldn’t contain myself, I hugged Tony Greene.”

Lawrence had hit the shot that snapped an 11-game losing streak to Tennessee that dates back six years with 0.1 seconds on the clock as the Commodores (12-12, 5-6 SEC) beat the Vols (19-5, 8-3), 66-65. After Vanderbilt was forced to foul five times in 18 seconds to send the Vols to the free throw line, Santiago Vescovi missed the front half of a one-and-one and Lawrence got the rebound. Down by two, Stackhouse called timeout to draw up a play with four seconds on the clock.

Stackhouse said he got the play from Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. Jordan Wright inbounded the ball to center Liam Robbins, who found Ezra Manjon. Manjon began cutting to the basket, where he had the option to either take the ball to the rim to force overtime or kick out to a shooter on the perimeter. Wide open in the corner, Lawrence called for the ball and drained the shot.

“You get a downhill guy,” Stackhouse said. “You start him in the backcourt with the most speed to send some shooters to the corner, your big catch which normally, he’s gonna be able to catch, and you hand back to your guard coming downhill with speed. And they kind of jammed him up a little bit so he still had time to make a move. And he got to the basket and I thought he had a decent look, but we were always talking about our bailouts and he got up there and drew two (defenders) and Tyrin was out open in the corner and stepped up and knocked it down.”

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The play worked exactly as designed, as the extra help on Manjon left Lawrence open. After being benched a week ago in a 57-point loss to Alabama, Lawrence didn’t miss his chance to be the hero.

Coming out of the timeout, Lawrence signaled to his teammates to look for him on the play.

“I sort of figured they would collapse and I knew that I’d be open on the weak side,” Lawrence said.

The win, Vanderbilt’s first against a top-10 opponent since 2016, is undoubtedly the biggest of Stackhouse’s career at a time when questions have been mounting about his job security. Although an NCAA Tournament bid is still a long shot, the win gives the Commodores some much-needed momentum and confidence down the stretch.

“Everything that happened, happened for us to be right here,” Stackhouse said. “In this moment with an opportunity to do what we’ve been talking about all season, I think now they believe me. I’ve been telling them because I believe in them and I believe in what they’re capable and able to do. But you need something like this to happen for them to really believe it. … I thought that they never lost their composure. They never lost their belief, and a really special night. I’m gonna remember this night for a long, long time.”