Behold, the value of senior leadership. On a night when A.J. Ogilvy and Jeffrey Taylor could only combine for 22 points on 7-18 shooting, senior Jermaine Beal stepped up to lead Vanderbilt to a message-sending road win in one of the toughest places to play in America. The Commodores earned their tenth straight win behind Beal’s 25 points on 8-12 from the field, which included 4-6 from beyond the arc. Those four treys were half of Vandy’s total of eight, which came on 14 attempts (57.1%). Tennessee, by contrast, could only manage 6-20 (30%) from three, often settling for shots from deep when there were better ones to be had. J.P. Prince led UT with 22/4/3, and Wayne Chism owned the boards in this physical game, pulling down 16 boards in addition to his eight points. Still, Vanderbilt was able to out-rebound the Vols, 37-35 — a major reason why Tennessee just suffered their first home loss of the season. At the start of last night, Kentucky was the only undefeated team in the nation; now, Vanderbilt is the only undefeated team (5-0) in the SEC, a game ahead of UK in the East. Eleven days ago, the Commodores did what Kentucky couldn’t — win at South Carolina — but they’ll visit Lexington this Saturday.
What I also saw heavily playing into the equation was a toughness that has not always been present in Vanderbilt's SEC road games in the recent past. The Commodores' grit factor was a must as they rallied late to topple the Vols 85-76, sending a Thompson-Boling crowd of 19,103 home early. It was chippy at times, but Vanderbilt refused to back down.
Vanderbilt got the resume-building win that's kept it out of the Top 25 (and one), and that the victory came against a rival on the road made it that much bigger. The Commodores went to Thompson-Boling Arena and recorded an 85-76 win over Tennessee, which had previously topped Kansas and Ole Miss at home. Kevin Stallings' team moved to16-3 overall, 5-0 in the SEC. And you don't even have to ask, Vandy fans. Yes, I'll (finally) rank the Commodores Sunday regardless of what happens this weekend at Kentucky.
FOXSPORTS.COM STUD OF THE NIGHT: Vanderbilt senior guard Jermaine Beal, who scored 25 points and didn’t commit a single turnover in 38 minutes to lead the Commodores to a 85-76 win against Tennessee in Knoxville.
This week's big mover earned its 10th straight win -- and third SEC road win in four tries -- at Tennessee. The road doesn't get any easier, as the Commodores visit Lexington on Saturday.
Jay Bilas - 17
Pat Forde - 16
Fran Fraschilla - 10
Doug Gottlieb - 14
Andy Katz - 12
Joe Lunardi - 13
Dana O'Neil - 17
Mark Schlabach - 16
Dick Vitale - 11
Jay Williams - 19