Vanderbilt led by as many as 18 points late in the first half. It didn't matter - Harvard came to Albuquerque to play.
The Crimson gave Vandy all they could handle in one of Thursday's best games, pushing the Commodores to a 79-70 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The win was Vanderbilt's first NCAA Tourney win since George W. Bush was in office. Harvard cut Vandy's lead to just five points with under 1:30 to play, but Kevin Stallings's team recovered in time to secure the win.
John Jenkins led the 'Dores in their first Tournament win since 2007. He had 27 points in Vandy's fourth straight postseason win. Jeffery Taylor added 15, while Brad Tinsley put together a veteran performance with 16 points on only six shots.
Vandy took a 10 point lead in to the half despite a tightly contested game from Harvard. The 'Dores used a 16-3 run that was fueled by Jenkins, Taylor, and Tinsley to create some space from a gritty Crimson team. Harvard played strong fundamental basketball, but Vanderbilt's advantages across the board shone through in a contentious first half.
The game saw another strong showing from the Vandy bench. Rod Odom and Kedren Johnson both made an impact on offense, scoring nine points in limited minutes. Dai-Jon Parker made hustle plays all game and kept Harvard's guards in check with heady defense and hustle plays. All three players - the key to this team's future - showed off the talent that could carry on the legacy left behind of Taylor and Ezeli. It was another encouraging step forward for the Commodores who will be carrying this team in 2012-2013.
Harvard guard Laurent Rivard did his best to match Jenkins shot for shot. The Quebecois gunner went 6-7 from three point range and single handedly shot the Crimson back in this game in the second half. Despite having a hand in his face, the 6'5" guard was able to connect at will against the Commodores on Thursday. He finished with 20 points.
With the win, Vanderbilt will face Wisconsin on Saturday. The Badgers defeated Montana earlier to earn their spot in the round of 32. The meeting will match up two of the NCAA's strongest three-point shooting teams.