Cinmeon Bowers (above, left) and Horace Spencer play defense against Vandy's Wade Baldwin.
Auburn, Ala.--Vanderbilt out-played Auburn in the first half and dominated the Tigers in the second period on the way to an 86-57 SEC basketball victory on Saturday at Auburn Arena.
Vandy shot 54.1 percent in the second half and made six three-pointers in the period to pull away from Auburn.
For the Tigers it was a seventh consecutive loss, dropping their record to 9-15 overall with a 3-9 mark in league play. The Commodores improved to 15-10 overall and 7-5 in the SEC.
Cinmeon Bowers, who played both point guard and power forward, led the Tigers with a double-double. The senior scored 12 points as he hit 5-9 field goals and added a game-high 15 rebounds. In 33 minutes Bowers finished with five assists, six turnovers and three steals and won praise from Coach Bruce Pearl for his effort.
“Cim had five baskets and five assists,” Pearl said. “We only had eight other baskets that he was not involved in without him scoring or assisting on.
“In many ways I think he has really stepped up,” Pearl added. “Sometimes he goes to too fast and probably a couple of his turnovers were unforced, but he is out there battling. For him to have 15 rebounds, and the next guy four, gives you an indication of the effort and energy he is putting forward, and his toughness.”
Guards T.J. Lang and Bryce Brown added 14 points apiece for the Tigers, whose next leading scorers were Horace Spencer and Tyler Harris with four points apiece.
Lang made just 5-18 field goals and was 4-12 on threes on a night his father, Utah Jazz assistant coach Antonio Lang, was at Auburn Arena during his team’s break for the NBA All-Star Game.
“Coach Pearl came and talked to me and said I needed to attack the rim more because in the Georgia game I went to the foul line 11 times,” Lang said. “I just tried to attack the rim, get my teammates open shots and just try to make everybody better.”
Lang contended that the situation isn’t hopeless for the Tigers as they try to snap out of a losing streak. “We have enough talent in the locker room to win games,” he declared. “We just have to put it all together, continue to get in the gym and make shots. One of these games it will all come together and we will all start making shots. We will start playing better.”
Seven-footer Damian Jones led the Commodores with 17 points and nine rebounds while Matthew Fisher-Davis added 16 points.
“When we take care of the ball good things happen,” said Vandy coach Kevin Stallings, whose team turned the ball over just six times while out-rebounding the Tigers 47-38.
Stallings said he thought his team played particularly well in the second half, especially to start the period, but added, “It is not the team they went into the season thinking they would have,” he said of the Tigers.
Pearl pointed out that the Commodores deserve credit for holding Auburn to 29 percent shooting. “They are a good team,” he said. “They lead the league in field goal defense and we shot a terrible percentage.”
Auburn stayed within striking range of the visitors for much of the first half. The Tigers trailed 18-15 at the 9:26 mark after a layup and free throw by Bowers. However, Vandy went on a 12-5 run to build the lead into double figures at 30-20 with 3:26 left in the half. The margin was 37-24 at intermission.
Halftime Numbers: Auburn hit 8-34 field goals (23.5 percent), 3-15 threes and 5-6 free throws and was out-rebounded 27-21. Vandy hit 16-36 field goals (44.4 percent), 3-14 threes and 2-7 free throws while turning the ball over three times, one less than the home team. Lang led the Tigers in scoring at the break with eight points while Damian Jones had 15 for the Commodores.
Lang said Auburn’s defense left a lot to be desired to start the second half as the visitors quickly built their lead to more than 20 points. Auburn was never able to make a run on the Commodores in the second half.
“I told our guys to try not to be discouraged,” Pearl said. “There is a lot of opportunity out there and we have a couple of guys who are taking advantage of the opportunity, and couple of guys who haven’t.”
Pearl said that he didn't have any problem with Lang taking 18 shots. “T.J. spent a lot of time in the gym. I wanted him to back up a little bit and stop worrying about the three-point line and get a foot behind the line because T.J. Lang has that kind of range and maybe it would give him a little bit more space between the defender and him, so maybe he would stop turning shots down. I thought he was turning a lot of shots down.
"The second thing I tried to get him to do was put the ball on the floor a little bit more," Pearl said. "He shot 11 free throws against Georgia, and he only shot one tonight. It is okay to put the ball on the floor and try to create and get to the rim. He is close to being able to make that play breakdown, but he hasn’t been able to quite do it. I was glad to see him be more aggressive.”
Worth Noting, Part 1: Devin Waddell made his first start of the season. The former walk-on had played in 20 contests averaging 6.6 minutes per outing. He played 11 minutes vs. the Commodores, but did not score and finished with one rebound.
Worth Noting Part 2: Tyler Harris was 1-8 shooting and finished with four points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. “Tyler is not 100 percent and he is not effective out there,” Pearl said. “His back is bad and he is not able to practice. We need him to be able to play like he is capable of, especially where there is opportunity on the offensive end. I think in the last three games his percentages are not really good and a lot of it has to do with his back being all tied up.”
Stat of the Game, Part 1: Auburn shot the ball 62 times from the field and made just 18 field goals.
Stat of the Game, Part 2: Auburn was outscored 40-18 for points in the paint.
Up Next: The Tigers will play at Arkansas on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CST.