Georgia made it Vanderbilt's closest SEC game of the season, but Vanderbilt was able to turn back the Bulldogs' rallies in a 77-66 win Saturday afternoon.
Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins led a balanced Commodore attack as Vandy won their seventh straight game and improved to 3-0 in SEC play. The duo combined for 33 points despite some shooting issues from both players. Vanderbilt overcame a hot Georgia start and held on late in the contest with clutch free throws to notch a solid conference win.
Taylor scored 15 points despite a rough showing at the free throw line. He short-armed several shots and finished just 6-12 from the stripe. He also picked up a careless technical foul with 1:21 to play that helped UGA cut Vanderbilt's lead from six points to four, giving the 'Dawgs possession and a new life late in the game. Fortunately for Taylor, Georgia could not capitalize on the opportunity.
Festus Ezeli made his presence felt in crunch time. The center pulled down a pair of key offensive rebounds that led to free throws and extended Vandy's lead from three points to six with three minutes to play. Georgia's three-point shooting, the aspect that kept them in the game through the second half, faded down the stretch, allowing the Commodores to pull away behind some strong rebounding and efficient play at the basket.
The win was a strong display of Vanderbilt's emerging bench strength. Players like Rod Odom and Dai-Jon Parker led an effort than helped the Commodores extend their lead when starters needed rest. The team got 15 points from their bench, and the team's supporting players went 5-8 from the field in an efficient showing.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope proved that quick, volume-shooting guards can still give Vanderbilt fits, scoring 19 points in the game and leading the Bulldogs. However, the 'Dores were able to force the freshman into careless mistakes in crunch time and adjusted well to limit UGA's ball movement when they needed to the most. Gerald Robinson added 15 points of his own, but the Bulldogs were held to just 38.9 percent shooting from the field. Conversely, Vanderbilt shot 51.2 percent.
The win improved the Commodores to 13-4 on the season. They'll travel to Tuscaloosa for a nationally televised showdown with Anthony Grant's Alabama team on Thursday.