This was not a well played game. Fortunately for Vanderbilt, style points don't count in the SEC standings.
Vanderbilt played a groggy, inconsistent game but held on to defeat South Carolina 59-48 for their ninth conference win of the season. However, a win that should have been a big momentum builder heading into a monster game at Rupp Arena ended up raising more questions about this team's makeup.
Wednesday's game was a tribute to poor shooting and sloppy ballhandling. Both Vandy and South Carolina suffered through scoring droughts of four minutes or more in each half as the two SEC schools combined to put up a Big Ten box score.The Gamecocks, who have the worst record in the conference, kept the game tight as the 'Dores failed to capitalize on opportunities all night.
Neither team shot better than 39 percent for the night. Fortunately, Festus Ezeli's presence in the post and 8-8 showing from the free throw line helped the team pull away in the win.
Vanderbilt had several opportunities to turn this into a rout in the second half, but failed to push their lead past seven points until the final minutes thanks to bad shots and turnovers. South Carolina scrapped back into the game, but couldn't capitalize as their shooting went cold. The Gamecocks had several clean looks from long-range but couldn't hit the net when they needed a big basket. Eventually, Ezeli was the difference, as SC lacked the size to effectively guard him in the paint.
Ezeli finished with 14 points and added six blocks in a strong defensive performance. John Jenkins led the team in scoring with 21. Jeffery Taylor had a rare off night, scoring just four points on 1-8 shooting from the field.
Bruce Ellington led South Carolina with 15 points. He was able to use his speed and get into the lane often against Vandy's backcourt, but struggled to score when met by Commodore forwards.