Vanderbilt needed to make a statement after losing three of their last four games. Jeffery Taylor gave them one.
Taylor sprung for 23 points, including a 5-5 showing from three-point range...in the first half - to lead Vandy to an affirming win over Ole Miss in Oxford Thursday night.
Vandy put together a dominant first half, scoring 53 points and shooting 71 percent, and rode that advantage to a 102-76 victory at the Tad Pad. The loss was only Ole Miss's second at home this season. Vanderbilt retained sole position of third place in the SEC with the win. 102 points was Vandy's best road showing in the SEC since a 1968 win over LSU in Baton Rouge.
Taylor took another step towards SEC Player of the Year honors with a 28 point, nine rebound performance that included a 5-6 showing from three-point range. Vanderbilt took a 5-2 lead early on and never trailed from that point on. The Commodores hit the gas and left Ole Miss behind, going on a 31-7 run late in the first half to open up a 53-28 lead at the half.
John Jenkins added 26 points in the win, needing only five shots to better his season scoring average. I don't have a record book handy, but that may be the greatest point-per-shot average for a single game in school history.
Kedren Johnson put together his best game off the bench for the Commodores, chipping in five assists with no turnovers in the first half alone. He chipped in six points as well. Shelby Moats also put together an impressive performance from the bench, recording a pair of blocks and showing off some impressive defense in the paint.
The win inspired hope for the postseason, as the Commodores easily dispatched a bubble team Thursday night. Ole Miss had played up and down ball going into tonight's matchup, and they needed a big win to propel their March hopes. Vanderbilt squashed that early on in a hostile environment, dropping the Rebels to 5-6 in the SEC and likely paving their way to the NIT. The 'Dores will have to replicate that Sunday at Georgia to keep their tournament momentum moving in the right direction.