Before Saturday's Big 12/SEC Challenge, the last time Vanderbilt traveled to Austin was in 2013. That year, the Commodores pushed an overmatched roster to a close, 70-64 loss to Texas. On Saturday, a much more talented Vandy team produced a much more disappointing result.
The Commodores' shooters couldn't hit Saturn from its rings in the first half, leading to a 72-58 road loss to the Longhorns. Vanderbilt scored only 16 points in the first 20 minutes as players not named Damian Jones combined to make just one field goal in the frame. Jones finished the game with a career-high 26 points and added nine rebounds, but was often the only point of light in a universe of basketball misery on Saturday. While the 'Dores rallied after halftime, the outcome of this game was hardly in question after Vandy's early struggles.
An early five-minute scoring drought set the tone for an underwhelming performance. The Commodores and Longhorns were tied 3-3 before an 11-0 run gave the home team a commanding lead that lasted the final 35 minutes. Vandy got more bad news they it lost starting guard Wade Baldwin IV to a leg injury, forcing Riley LaChance, Nolan Cressler, Carter Josephs, and Camron Justice to improvise at the point for the majority of the game. That group was ineffective, and the 'Dores limped to the locker room trailing 31-16 at the break.
Vanderbilt came out hot in the second half behind Jones and Matthew Fisher-Davis. The rangy guard drained the Dores' first three-pointer of the game to help cut into Texas's lead, but slipshod defense prevented the team from making any progress chipping away at the deficit. UT came away with points on five of their first seven possessions to keep Vandy at arm's length despite some hot shooting.
Fisher-Davis's skilled touch from long range prevented this game from turning into a blowout and kept the fans at the Erwin Center in their seats despite UT's casual dominance. He and Jones had combined for 42 of Vandy's 48 points with six minutes to play. A Luke Kornet three-pointer cut the Texas lead to seven points with 5:42 left, but that was as close as the Commodores would get in the second half.
Fisher-Davis finished the game with 19 points behind a 5-10 performance from long range, but the rest of Vanderbilt's guards combined to make only three field goals on the afternoon. Kornet had a similarly rough outing - that aforementioned three was the only shot he made.
Vanderbilt fell to 12-9 with the loss. Texas improved to 14-7. The Commodores will return to the hardwood - and SEC play - when they host No. 5 Texas A&M on Thursday night.