No. 16 Vanderbilt's inability to protect the ball or pull down defensive rebounds proved to be a pair of fatal flaws on Sunday. The Commodores lost to No. 25 Baylor 69-67 despite holding the Bears to under 40 percent field goal shooting when they failed to lock down second chances and allowed Taurean Prince to explode for a career-high 30 points.
The 'Dores led 52-39 midway through the second half, but they couldn't sustain that momentum as these two teams battled through a back-and-forth final five minutes. Damian Jones shook off a lethargic start to give his team some key points down the stretch, but he and Luke Kornet combined for just 16 points in the loss. Wade Baldwin IV led Vandy with 17 points on just nine shots.
Vanderbilt got off to a slow start as sloppy play helped the home team get off to an early lead. Baylor tore up the Commodores' big men inside en route to 11 first-half offensive rebounds. Damian Jones had only three first-half points as the home team pushed the 'Dores around near the rim to create the second chances that led to points. An 8-0 run gave the Bears a 32-24 lead with 1:28 left in the half, but Riley LaChance's clutch three-pointer helped his team pull to within 34-32 at the break.
Matthew Fisher-Davis came out of the locker room hot to push the 'Dores back into the lead, sinking three three-pointers in the first 4:30 and helping his team strike out to a 17-0 run that gave Vandy a 52-39 lead with 12 minutes to go. The Bears refused to go away quietly, though. Baylor forced the Commodores into three straight turnovers to help fuel an 13-0 run of their own that tied this game at 52-all and re-energized the Waco crowd. Another three-turnover stretch gave BU the latitude they needed to take a 61-58 lead, but a big Nolan Cressler three-pointer tied this game with four minutes to play.
Two clutch Damian Jones free throws gave Vandy a 67-66 lead as the clock crept under a minute, but Lester Medford stepped up in a big way. The Bears' guard nailed an and-1 three pointer that gave Baylor a chance to take a three-point lead, but missed the ensuing free throw to give the 'Dores the ball down two with 41.7 seconds to play. Nolan Cressler had a chance to tie things up, but he missed two free throws that gave BU a chance to ice this game. They couldn't, but Vandy couldn't deliver on their last chance to send this game into overtime. Riley LaChance's runner bounced off the rim, and while Cressler was about to corral the rebound, his jumper couldn't find the mark as time ran out.
The loss dropped Vanderbilt to 6-2 on the season, but both losses have come against ranked opponents. Baylor improved to 6-1 with the victory. Vandy will return to the floor on Wednesday night for a home matchup against 6-1 Dayton.