Vanderbilt came into Thursday night's game at Alabama at +200 underdogs at the sports book. They left Tuscaloosa with their eighth straight win.
John Jenkins scored 20 points to go with eight rebounds and Jeffery Taylor added 17 as the Commodores opened up a big second half lead and rolled to a big victory at Alabama Thursday night.
A 34-12 run turned a 15-19 first half deficit into a 49-31 second half lead. Vanderbilt took advantage of Alabama's cold shooting and some beneficial calls from the referees to turn around what had been a disappointing start for the Commodores. Vandy shot just 3-11 to open up the game, ceding the early lead to the Tide and playing the ugly, slow-paced type of game that 'Bama excels at.
However, Vanderbilt caught their stride and took advantage of their opponents' miscues to pull away late in the first half. 'Bama suffered through a 7:37 scoring slump to finish out the frame, allowing Vandy to grab a lead that they wouldn't relinquish. It also helped that Vanderbilt seemed to get the majority of the 50/50 calls from the SEC referee crew - an aspect that was well noted by coach Anthony Grant as well as the lively Alabama crowd.
Grant's frustration boiled over with a technical foul that led to John Jenkins scoring five points in seven seconds. The points effectively took 'Bama out of the game until under the four-minute mark, when the Tide's full-court press forced three straight Brad Tinsley turnovers and cut Vandy's lead to 13. Fortunately, Vanderbilt was able to respond and hang on for the 69-59 win.
Festus Ezeli had 12 points and 10 rebounds in one of his best offensive showings of the year., but was just 2-9 from the free throw line. Lance Goulbourne had 11 and two blocks. The win improves Vanderbilt to 4-0 in the SEC and 14-4 overall. They'll head back to Nashville to host #15 Mississippi State in their biggest test of the young SEC season on Saturday.