Jeffery Taylor put together a game that could make him a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and Vanderbilt avenged last season's sweep to Tennessee with a monster 65-47 win at Memorial Gym Tuesday night.
The Commodores shook off Saturday's disappointing loss to Mississippi State with a blowout win over their arch rivals. Vandy opened the game with a 9-0 run and never looked back, pushing their lead to as many as 27 points in the victory.
Taylor led the team with some excellent play on both ends of the court. He scored 23 points (including 3-3 from three point range) and had nine rebounds in a next-level performance. John Jenkins scored 16, while Festus Ezeli added nine boards and four blocks in another step forward in his ongoing recovery from knee troubles. The Commodores continued their streak of solid defense, holding UT to just 35.3 percent shooting from the field. The Volunteers were held to a season-low 47 points.
Though Tennessee was just 9-10 coming into the game, they were coming off a potential turnaround win last weekend against Connecticut. Freshman Jarnell Stokes made a big impact in his first ever game at Memorial Gym, pulling down 10 rebounds and getting into a couple of altercations with Ezeli - eventually leading to double technicals in the second half. It wasn't the only instance of chippy play in the game - Ezeli was called for a flagrant foul in the first half, and Volunteer freshman Yemi Makanjuola was ejected with 1:25 to play for clotheslining Jenkins as he ran down the court.
Big man Jeronne Maymon had 15 points to lead Tennessee. The team's starting guards combined to go 4-21 from the field.
The win was huge for the Commodores. Not only was it a blowout win over their arch rivals, but it was also a major bounceback from Saturday's Mississippi State loss. Vanderbilt showed that they could maintain their intensity throughout a game even when they held a big lead. The 'Dores never let off the gas, and Tennessee didn't have a chance to get back into this game in the second half.
Vandy will take a break from SEC play this weekend, hosting Middle Tennessee State in a big non-conference showdown. The Blue Raiders are 19-2 on the season and will be looking to earn a statement win in Nashville. If the Commodores can win, they'll regain much of the momentum they lost with last weekend's overtime loss to MSU.