Kyle Fuller and Rod Odom have been at Vanderbilt for nearly four years. They know exactly what the Vandy/Tennessee rivalry means - and they proved it in a major way in a 64-60 win over the Volunteers on Wednesday.
The duo combined for 38 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds - keyed by a career high 26 from Odom - to win their fourth straight game. The Volunteers had a chance to tie this one up in the final seconds, but another veteran, junior Dai-Jon Parker, came up with a game-saving strip of Josh Richardson in the paint.
Vanderbilt used hot shooting and tight defense to run out to a 36-26 halftime lead. The 'Dores smothered Tennessee out to the three-point line, limiting their ability to find open men inside and forcing bad shots in front of a hostile Nashville crowd. That effective zone defense stymied UT's shooters while helping to keep Vandy's seven-man rotation fresh. The 'Dores made their shots count on the other end, making 60 percent of their attempts from the field.
However, the Vols rallied back in the second half as Vandy's forwards rotated off the court due to foul trouble. Odom, Damian Jones, and James Siakam struggled with the strength of Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon inside, leading to 21 offensive rebounds for the Volunteers and a 41-26 advantage on the boards overall. That led to a 53-53 tie with six minutes to play, but the 'Dores responded with a 6-1 run - capped off by a thunderous Jones alley-oop dunk - to create some breathing room headed into the final media timeout.
Vandy held a 62-56 lead with 30 seconds to play, but a timely turnover and a pair of missed free throws from Fuller gave the Vols a chance to tie or take the lead with 15 seconds to play. It looked like Richardson had cut a clear path to the basket before Parker stepped in to poke the ball loose and into Odom's hands. The senior hit the two free throws on the other end, and Vanderbilt defended their home court with what may be the biggest win of their season.
Vandy's current four-game winning streak is their longest of the season. They improved to 13-8 overall and 5-4 in the SEC. Tennessee fell to 14-8 and 5-4 with the loss. The 'Dores will return to action on Saturday when they host 13-8 Arkansas.