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No. 15 Vanderbilt overwhelms Iona for 13th victory

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings stomped his foot on the ground, threw his arms in the air, then took a seat on the bench and covered his face.

Watching the Commodores play defense can be frustrating.

Luckily, Stallings' team doesn't have a problem scoring.

No. 15 Vanderbilt got out to the best start in school history Monday, beating Iona 97-73 behind A.J. Ogilvy's 20 points and nine rebounds. Despite another lackluster defensive effort, the Commodores (13-0) are one of six unbeaten Division I teams.

North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas, Washington State and Mississippi are the others.

"When you can't guard, it's really a good thing to score," Stallings said.

Vanderbilt's coach is the first to admit his team's record -- and ranking -- might be deceiving.

Last week, he said his Commodores were "the most overrated team in America" after the program rose to its highest ranking since 1993.

Vanderbilt's defense struggled against another inferior opponent Monday, allowing Iona to shoot 49 percent from the floor. The Gaels (5-9) scored 41 points in the first half -- more than they had in a 67-37 loss Saturday at Louisville -- and Vanderbilt found itself clinging to a 5-point lead at home after the opening half.

Upset at his team's defensive effort, Stallings reiterated his earlier comments after his team struggled Monday -- only this time with an added twist.

"Based on how we're taking care of the ball and how we're playing defensively, we are the most overrated team in the country," Stallings said. "Now I didn't say anything about our ability to score."

Shan Foster added 20 points, and Alan Metcalfe scored 14 for Vanderbilt, which won its first 12 games in 2003-04 and advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

The 97 points were the most this season for Vanderbilt, topping the previous high of 95 against Bradley. The Commodores say they still haven't played their best.

"It's an honor to be mentioned with those teams," Foster said. "But we still have bigger goals."

Gary Springer led Iona with 17 points, and Devon Clarke added 15 points and four rebounds for the Gaels, who said they weren't intimidated by Vanderbilt.

"There defense wasn't tough at all," Springer said. "We could get any shot we wanted, anytime. We lost because of us, not them."

The Commodores were the first ranked opponent Iona has faced this season. First-year Iona coach Kevin Willard and his Gaels took advantage of Vanderbilt's defensive lapses to keep it close early.

Willard said Vanderbilt's defense, "doesn't do anything that makes you worry," and that allowed his Gaels to stay in the game.

"They don't have to play that much defense," Willard said. "There one of the best offensive teams in the country."

The Commodores led 46-41 at the break, then used a 26-5 spurt at the start of the second half to stretch their lead to 72-46, turning a competitive game into the expected blowout.

"When you play defense, it helps carry over into offense," Metcalfe said. "That's why we were able to go on that run."

That didn't appease Stallings, who added a few extra foot stomps than usual to show his displeasure.

Vanderbilt's struggles have followed a familiar pattern.

The Commodores build a lead, watch it dissolve, then allow a lesser opponent to stay close longer than expected. The Commodores get their first true test of the season next week when Southeastern Conference play begins.

"That's why we need to put more effort on the defensive end," Stallings said. "We're not going to get 97, maybe ever."