James Siakam and Damian Jones were sick of losing. They did something about it on Tuesday night, carrying Vanderbilt to a 67-61 home win over Florida on Tuesday night.
Siakam had one of the greatest games of his career with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks and his frontcourt mate Jones added 13, seven, and four to carry their team to a much-needed victory. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Commodores. It had been the program's worst deluge since 2003.
Vanderbilt got off to a hot start at home thanks to the interior play of Damian Jones. Jones set the pace early by locking down the paint, keeping Florida scoreless, and adding four points of his own as the 'Dores got off to a 15-0 start. The Gators found their way off the canvas thanks to Alex Murphy's play from the bench. He added six points in a 10-0 run that brought the home team back to earth midway through the first half.
If it wasn't Jones doing work, it was James Siakam. "Bamba" had 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks in the first half as the 'Dores came up with seven swats in the opening frame. Vanderbilt took a 31-23 lead into the locker room.
The two teams battled throughout the second half before the Gators took advantage of a six-minute stretch in which Vandy failed to score via field goal to make it 54-51 Commodores with six minutes to play. Only Riley LaChance could find the bottom of the net from 13:55 to 1:38, but his dagger threes kept Florida from building their momentum to a tipping point late in this game. That streak ended when Wade Baldwin IV pushed a steal down the court for a breakaway dunk that put the 'Dores up 63-57 and effectively sealed this one up. The two teams traded turnovers down the stretch in a basketball ode to Bubba Sparxx's hit song "Ugly," but Vanderbilt ultimately came out with the six point win.
Vandy improved to 12-10 and 2-7 in league play with the win. Florida dropped to 12-10 and 5-4 in the SEC. The Commodores will look to build on tonight's momentum when they host South Carolina on Saturday.