Vanderbilt's size and athleticism handed Davidson their second loss of the season Wednesday night, as the Commodores held off a Wildcat rally for a 87-83 victory. The 'Dores almost blew their third big second-half lead in three games, but held on to earn a much-needed win.
Jeffery Taylor scored a career high 30 points and Festus Ezeli added 15 to go with
seven six rebounds, and three blocks in his first action of the season as the Commodores bounced back from back-to-back losses. Ezeli wasn't quite 100 percent for Vandy on the floor, but he was effective as no one on Davidson's squad could match his size and athleticism. His presence helped the 'Dores out of bad situations and created efficient scoring opportunities through over 20 minutes of play.
Vanderbilt pulled away after a tightly contested first half saw both teams battle in a sloppy affair. Davidson opened the game up with a 16-8 run over the first eight minutes that had Kevin Stallings looking for answers. Fortunately, Taylor and John Jenkins were able to respond with a stretch of dominant play. The pair accounted for 20 of the team's first 21 points, with Jenkins's layup giving the team their first lead with nine minutes to go in the half.
The 'Dores pulled away in the second half despite battling foul trouble. Davidson had the advantage of being in the bonus just four minutes into the frame but were unable to capitalize and pull even with Vanderbilt. Athletic play and sharp cuts to the basket keyed an efficient Commodore offense. Vandy led by 16 at several points late in the game before the Wildcats came back to cut the lead to three with 10 seconds remaining.
The 'Cats rally was keyed by Vandy turnovers and some hot shooting. With Vandy's starters playing soft thanks to foul trouble, Davidson was able to cut a 12 point deficit into a four point one as the clock wound down. Fortunately for Vanderbilt, a huge Ezeli putback and clutch free throws from Jenkins and Brad Tinsley helped close the door on a Davidson upset.
Vanderbilt will have 10 days off before their next game, a home matchup with Indiana State. The long break will allow Ezeli to get a bit healthier and afford the rest of the team the time they need to study for finals.