Vanderbilt had plenty of problems on Tuesday night. Auburn just had more.
The Commodores overcame 19 turnovers to defeat the Tigers in Bruce Pearl's first game in Nashville since 2011, 64-52. Vandy's ballhandling struggled to handle Auburn's defensive pressure, but their proficiency on the boards carried them to a 48-27 rebounding advantage. On defense, the 'Dores limited their opponents to just 30.5% shooting from the floor to earn a morale-boosting conference win.
Vanderbilt outworked Pearl's team early to establish a 33-19 lead going into the half. The Commodores took advantage of Auburn's inefficiencies and held them to 20.7% shooting in the first 20 minutes. That lead could have been even bigger, but Vandy turned the ball over four times in their final five possessions to head into the half up only 14 despite an otherwise dominating performance.
The Tigers battled back in the second frame, using a 9-0 run to slice the VU lead in half and send Kevin Stallings scrambling for a timeout. The 'Dores responded with seven straight points of their own, capped off by a huge three by a bemasked Riley LaChance that sent the home crowd into an uproar with nine minutes to play. However, they couldn't sustain that momentum.
Vanderbilt went cold as the game went on thanks to a high-pressure Auburn defense that prevented Damian Jones from getting any open looks inside. LaChance's three was the last field goal the 'Dores made until he freshman drove for a layup with 1:05 remaining. In the interim, the visiting Tigers had closed the gap to 55-50 to put this young team on their heels. An Auburn turnover on the next possession effectively killed their comeback chances, as the 'Dores made 12 of their final 14 free throws to ice their first SEC win of the season.
James Siakam led the Commodores with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and an enormous charge call that stuck a pin in Auburn's win probability. LaChance had 13 points despite playing with a Rip Hamilton-style mask to cover his injured nose. Antoine Mason led all scorers with 16 points in the losing effort.
Vanderbilt improved to 11-3 and 1-0 in SEC play with the win. Auburn fell to 8-6 and 0-1 in the league. The Commodores will return to action on Saturday when they travel to #23 Arkansas.