North Carolina gave Vanderbilt a scare, but John Jenkins's clutch play ensured a big Commodore win in the semifinals of the TicketCity Legends Classic Saturday night.
The Commodores defeated the Wolfpack 86-79 and will face the winner of Texas and Oregon State in the finals. However, getting there wasn't easy. Vanderbilt never led by more than five points until the closing seconds of the game, as NC State battled back from every Vandy basket and kept the 'Dores from mounting any significant runs.
However, Jenkins refused to let Vanderbilt suffer another upset early in the season. He led all scorers with 28 points and was the team's steadying presence throughout the game. His biggest moment came with 1:21 left to play and the outcome in the balance.
Vandy led just 78-77 when Jenkins pump-faked and stepped to his left to fire off an open three and give the 'Dores their strongest lead of the night. NC State had no answer on the ensuring play, turning the ball over and spotting Vanderbilt another two points on Lance Goulbourne's ensuing free throws.
Jeffery Taylor had an on-and-off night, looking outstanding at times and fading into the background in others, but he still finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. Lance Goulbourne scored an efficient 15 points on five field goal attempts, and Brad Tinsley added 14 in the win. Steve Tchiengang led the team in rebounds with 12, including four offensive boards.