Once Vanderbilt opened up a double-digit lead, the Commodores were cooked.
Vandy blew their second big lead in as many games against the Volunteers as they couldn't hold an 11 point advantage in the second half against their in-state arch rivals. The 'Dores couldn't locate their offense and fell apart as the game wore on, failing to score at all in the final five minutes and recording just one field goal over the last 10:34. The team's offensive dynamos John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor were just that -offensive - combining for only 20 points on a 8-23 shooting night.
Tennessee led late into the first half on the strength of their offensive rebounds and Vanderbilt's sloppiness. Turnovers and second chances kept VU's high octane offense from settling into gear as the Commodores couldn't find their rhythm to start the game. However, the Volunteers couldn't capitalize on Vandy's struggles, failing to convert field goals in the paint and allowing the 'Dores to stick around. Both teams settled for long jumpers early in the shot clock that stopped falling as the half wore down, grinding the game down to a sloppy crawl.
The Commodores came alive in the second half during a sloppy, fast-paced run that played to the home team's athleticism. Vandy took advantage of UT misses and Festus Ezeli blocks to key a 13-5 run that put the 'Dores up 42-31 with 12:55 to play.
However, the Vols and Scotty Hopson wouldn't be denied. Tennessee was disruptive on defense and worked to get better looks in the paint on offense to regain the lead in the midst of a 29-9 run. Vanderbilt trailed 55-51 with just 1:14 to play, but had the ball and the confidence of a few clutch performances over recent weeks behind them. Unfortunately for Kevin Stallings's team, the missteps that doomed them earlier in the season during big games came back to haunt them again.
The 'Dores had a chance to cut the UT lead to 2, but Lance Goulbourne missed a pair of free throws to doom the Commodores. The Vols hit their free throws down the stretch and were simply the more composed team in the clutch - just like they were in the teams' first meeting in January.
Festus Ezeli and Steve Tchiengang were the team's most effective scorers, but each fouled out late in the game, leaving the 'Dores punch-less in the clutch. Tennessee earned their win by disrupting Vandy's offense and creating turnovers - finishing with an impressive 15 steals against a sloppy Commodore backcourt. Scotty Hopson finished with 19 points, most coming in the second half, and Tobias Harris tallied a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) for the Vols.