Vanderbilt scored their third win over a ranked team this season as the Commodores offense propelled the team past #22 St. Mary's 89-70. Vandy's backcourt was the difference, as the rotation of Brad Tinsley, Kyle Fuller, John Jenkins, and Jeffery Taylor outplayed the Gaels' talented duo of Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova to give the 'Dores another resume building win.
Kyle Fuller had his best game as a Commodore, as his presence and fast-paced style was the best fit against St. Mary's small-ball lineup. Despite having just four points and four assists, he was the catalyst for many of Vanderbilt's runs - including a decisive 30-9 stretch in the first half that gave the 'Dores a lead that they wouldn't give up. His defense also helped limit Gael star McConnell to just two field goals.
Vanderbilt trailed 13-19 eight minutes into the game and looked as though they would be sunk by turnovers early. The Gaels were effective in getting to the rim and finding open shots while the 'Dores struggled to secure the ball. However, hot shooting and St. Mary's miscues swung the favor back to Vandy. The visiting team had no answer for the team's long range marksmanship or ability to get to the free throw line - Vanderbilt connected on 11 of 22 three-point attempts and scored 26 points from the charity stripe on the day.
The Gaels were able to cut the Vandy lead down to five points on a pair of occasions, but Kevin Stallings's squad was able to answer throughout the second half. This was an encouraging sign for a team that had big leads evaporate against South Carolina and Tennessee as the game wore on. Though St. Mary's was able to use offensive rebounding and foul trouble to scrap back into the game early in the second half, Vanderbilt beat them at their own game by utilizing a three guard lineup with Taylor and Lance Goulbourne as forwards.
The strategy worked - Taylor scored 19 points (on just 5 FG attempts!) and grabbed seven rebounds while Goulbourne posted his second straight double-double with a 15 and 10 performance. The Jenkins-Tinsley-Fuller experience in the backcourt was also successful. The trio combined for 41 points, 11 assists, 12 rebounds, and just four turnovers. Their play has to give Coach Kevin Stallings confidence in his options for situations where Festus Ezeli (only eight points due to foul trouble) or Steve Tchiengang can't provide big minutes.
Saint Mary's, like Georgia before them, saw a big winning streak disappear when they stepped foot in Memorial Gym. Vanderbilt came away with their most impressive win of the year by blowing out a highly regarded (but possibly overrated) west coast team. More importantly, they got confidence-building performances out of key players that this team will need for an extended tournament run come March. The 'Dores now have five days to prepare for a potential trap game with a very dangerous Mississippi State team before returning back to Nashville to face Arkansas.