Vanderbilt needed a win after an 0-3 start to SEC play. They got a cathartic one when they shot Auburn off the court on Tuesday night, 75-57.
Luke Kornet set a school record with 10 blocks against the Tigers and added 11 points and 11 rebounds to record a rare Vanderbilt triple-double. Wade Baldwin also flirted with that stat-stuffing distinction behind a 17 point, 10 assist, seven rebound performance.
The two teams came out swinging in a first half where defense was optional early on. Vanderbilt went 4-4 from the field en route to a 13-2 lead, but Auburn punched back with nine straight points. The Commodores responded with a 10-2 run of their own that sent them into the first media timeout with a 23-13 lead punctuated by Jeff Roberson's bonkers drive-and-dunk:
Roberson wasn't the only one playing motivated on Tuesday night. The Commodores looked more crisp than they had since early December, moving the ball well in the half court and finding open shooters throughout the half. The team didn't miss a three-point shot until nearly 17 minutes had passed. In all, Vanderbilt shot 66.7 percent from the field and 75 percent from three to take a 39-22 lead at halftime. Wade Baldwin had nine assists and Luke Kornet set a new career high with seven blocks in the first 20 minutes.
The two teams slower their pace in the second half, but Vanderbilt's defense continued to badger the Tigers into bad shots as they extended their lead to 20 points with 16 minutes to play.
Baldwin shouldered the scoring load out of the locker room. He scored 15 points in an eight minute span to push Vandy to a 66-43 lead and give this team the breathing room they'd missed since the schedule flipped over to conference play. A 7-0 Tiger run cut that lead to 16 points and forced Kevin Stallings to call a time out, but the 'Dores responded with four straight points to make Kornet's quest for a triple-double the only drama left in the lungs of this quickly expiring game.
Kornet had eight points, 10 rebounds, and 10 blocks when he sunk the front end of a pair of free throws with 1:58 left in the game. He then missed the second shot, but had another opportunity to hit double-digits with a jumper from the free throw line that clanked off the front of the rim. The 'Dores found him one last time under the rim where he was fouled by Cinmeon Bowers with 45 seconds to play. He then missed both free throws, but grabbed his final miss and drove to the rim for a lay-up that gave him his 11th point of the night and Vanderbilt's first triple-double since Brad Tinsley recorded one back in 2010.
The Commodores earned their first conference win with the emphatic victory. The 'Dores improved to 9-7 overall and 1-3 in league play. Auburn fell to 7-8 and 1-3. Vanderbilt will return to the hardwood on Saturday afternoon when they host 9-5 Alabama.