Vanderbilt is peaking at the exact right time.
The Commodores ran out to a 13-point halftime lead and hung on to upset Ole Miss 86-77. Riley LaChance had 19 points while James Siakam had 14 and nine rebounds to lead the Commodores to a 9-9 conference record and the #7 seed in next week's SEC Tournament.
Vanderbilt utilized a hot start to keep the home team at bay. They led the Rebels 13-5 early on and never looked back en route to their fifth straight win. After a 1-7 start to conference play - which included a seven game losing streak - Vanderbilt found their stroke in time to finish at 9-9 and lock down a spot in the top half of the conference. The win means that they'll avoid 31-0 Kentucky in the third round of the SEC Tournament - if they make it that far.
The Commodores took a 46-33 lead into halftime and were never really threatened after the break. Vandy led by as many as 17 points and no fewer than eight points in the second half. It was a disappointing end for a home crowd that wanted to send Ole Miss's seniors off with a victory. Barring an NIT bid, it was also the final game at the Tad Pad, the often marginally-full arena that the Rebels have called home since 1966. Vanderbilt will be able to claim that they were the last team to earn a victory at the arena that peaked when the Allman Brothers visited (along with Gov't Mule) back in 1992.
Wade Baldwin IV set the Vanderbilt record for most assists by a freshman thanks to his four dimes. He also had 15 points and eight rebounds in the win. Matthew Fisher-Davis and Luke Kornet also came up big for a Commodore team that had five different players score in double figures.
Vanderbilt will return to action next Thursday when they face #10 seed Tennessee in the second round of the SEC Tournament. The winner of that game will go on to face #2 Arkansas with a trip to the league's final four on the line.