Vanderbilt needed a signature win to headline its NCAA Tournament resume. The Commodores got one on Thursday night when they ran No. 8 Texas A&M ragged for a 77-60 victory.
Jeff Roberson had a career high 20 points, Damian Jones added 13 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks, and the Commodores rained threes on their home court to carry their team to its biggest win of the season. Vanderbilt had lost every game it played against top 25 teams in 2015-16 before toppling the Aggies.
Vanderbilt got off to a hot start, opening up a 14-1 lead that featured two Luke Kornet three-pointers as the shot clock expired. However, substitutions took Kornet and Jones (eight points in six minutes) off the floor and gave Texas A&M the latitude to storm back into the game. The Commodores' double-digit lead was cut back down to a tie game when Tonny Trocha-Morelos drained a corner three to make it 23-all with 10 minutes left in the half.
An extended cold snap from three-point range put Vandy in a hole. The 'Dores suffered a six-minute scoring drought that gave the Aggies the lead, but Matthew Fisher-Davis snapped his team out of it and helped shoot the home team back into the lead. A step-back Wade Baldwin three as the clock ran down pushed VU to a 40-33 halftime advantage.
Vanderbilt held on to that momentum to start the second half. A 9-0 run pushed the lead to 16 points before a Tyler Davis drive ended the Aggies' slump. Some savvy Roberson drives and energized post play from Jones helped the 'Dores flirt with a 20-point advantage before Kevin Stallings rested his starters and ceded a portion of his lead while his bench players struggled to find the bottom of the net.
The Aggies used a 7-0 run to cut the VU lead to 11 with 10:55 to play, but the 'Dores rode an energized home crowd and some inspired play from Roberson and Wade Baldwin to hold off Texas A&M's rally.
Vanderbilt improved to 13-9 on the season and crested .500 (5-4) in conference play for the first time. Texas A&M suffered its fourth loss of the season and fell to 7-2 in the SEC. The Commodores will return to the hardwood on Saturday when they travel to Oxford for an evening game against Ole Miss.