Vanderbilt started off league play on the right foot, holding Auburn to just 35 points in a blowout win at home Saturday afternoon. The Commodores held their opponent to just 27.3 percent shooting from the field in a game whose outcome was never in question.
The 'Dores got off to a quick start, inducing five Auburn fouls in the first 2:04 of play and jumping out to an 11-3 lead. Vandy was in the bonus with nearly 14 minutes left in the first half and used this advantage to roll to a 38-19 score at the half. Coach Kevin Stallings used effective defensive sets to challenge the Tigers into taking shots, and a cold shooting Auburn team struggled to score. After putting up 19 points in the first half, they managed only 16 in an often ugly second frame.
The big lead gave the 'Dores the chance to give their bench players some extended run. Dai-Jon Parker, Kedren Johnson, and Rod Odom all played 12 minutes or more for a team that needs to build up its depth and strength off the bench. The three combined for 11 points, seven rebounds, and two assists in what may have been Parker's best game as a Commodore. The freshman went 2-3 from beyond the arc and showed that he may be close to turning the corner in what has been a turbulent season for the highly-rated recruit so far.
Festus Ezeli got his first start of the season, but played just 16 minutes in the blowout. He finished with four points and eight rebounds. John Jenkins led all scorers with 17 points (on only nine shots) and Brad Tinsley had 12 with six assists. Jeffery Taylor had 16 points and boosted his three-point shooting percentage back up to 40 percent with a 3-5 day from long range.
The Commodores will have two days off before traveling to Columbia to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks are 8-6 on the season and will be coming off of a trip to Kentucky to play the #2 Wildcats. Vanderbilt should have plenty of momentum heading into that game, but they'll still be looking to make a statement after dispatching one of the conference's weakest teams. If they can put a turning on SC similar to the one they dropped on the Tigers today, they'll take another step towards regaining the confidence they need to make a deep run in March.