Arkansas heated up in the second half and the Commodores got out-hustled to bring Kevin Stallings's career record to 1-7 in Fayetteville in a 82-74 Vanderbilt loss Tuesday night.
Arkansas caught fire from long range in the second half to turn a halftime deficit into a double-digit lead that the 'Dores couldn't dig out of. Vanderbilt's once-effective zone defense was shredded by effective shooting and some long rebounds. The Razorbacks made these second chances count, pulling down 12 offensive rebounds and holding a +9 advantage in shots taken.
The Commodores couldn't keep up with Arkansas's explosion with Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins stuck in shooting slumps. The two went just 11-26 from the field and Jenkins's propensity to take deep threes early in the shot clock actually helped take this team out of the game rather than insert them back into it. Their play negated a strong performance from the team's centers, as Festus Ezeli and Steve Tchiengang proved to be the team's most effective players on offense. Tchiengang's 10 point performance was especially encouraging coming from a player who had been mired in a funk most of the season.
Vanderbilt was beaten to loose balls and frustrated by Arkansas's aggressive play throughout the contest. Once the Razorbacks opened up a big lead, Vandy seemed to lose composure, rushing shots and forcing their offense despite having plenty of time left in the second half. Arkansas, on the other hand, fed off the energy of their home crowd and willed themselves into good situations. It was an impressive showing for a 'Hog team that is working to slide their way to the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Vandy will look to recover in a big showdown in Gainesville on Saturday. They'll face the #11 ranked Florida Gators in a game that will have big seeding implications in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. They'll also need a big win to hold on to any hope of remaining ranked after sneaking into the Coaches' Poll at 25 this week.