Vandy hammers Vols, 90-71

After losing 85-76 to Vanderbilt Jan. 27 in Knoxville, Tennessee was determined that Tuesday's rematch in Nashville would be different. It was; this time was even worse.

The Big Orange fell behind 30-10 early and never seriously threatened thereafter en route to a 90-71 loss at Memorial Gymnasium.

"I'm very disappointed with the way we started the game ... our lack of poise," UT coach Bruce Pearl said on his post-game show. "Your best players have got to step and play well early on the road.

"Who are our best players? Our starters for starters, and they just didn't play well at all. You can't rely on Renaldo (Woolridge), you can't blame (Steven) Pearl or Skylar McBee or Melvin (Goins) or some of them other guys. Our best players have got to step up and play. They did not tonight.

"We're really disappointed with the effort."

No wonder. The Big Orange was not even competitive.

The No. 22 Commodores, now 18-5 overall and 7-2 in SEC play, looked quicker than the 12th-ranked Vols, now 18-5 and 6-3. Unable to keep pace, Tennessee defenders sent Vandy to the foul line 43 times. The Commodores hit 37, enabling them to win comfortably even though Tennessee made more field goals (26 to 24).

Playing on the road is tough in the SEC but not as tough as the lethargic Vols made it appear on this night.

"Obviously," Pearl said, "when Vanderbilt's 37 of 43 from the foul line it's almost insurmountable."

Vandy forward Jeffery Taylor produced 16 first-half points and led all scorers with 26. He was 12 of 12 from the foul line. Point guard Jermaine Beal chipped in 20 points and 6-foot-11 post A.J. Ogilvy added 11.

J.P. Prince hit three late 3-pointers and led the Vols with 19 points. Wayne Chism added 16 and reserve point guard Melvin Goins 11. Scotty Hopson contributed 10 points - all in the second half - but was just 4 of 14 from the floor, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range.

Vanderbilt shot 47.0 percent from the field and 33.3 percent (5 of 15) from 3. Tennessee shot 40 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent (6 of 17) from 3. The Commodores outrebounded the Vols 40-31.

Mindful of the earlier loss to Vandy in Knoxville, Tennessee players were supposed to be fired up for the rematch. If they were, it didn't show. The Vols appeared slow on defense and lost on offense, making just 2 of their first 15 field-goal tries and falling behind 30-10 with 8:46 left to halftime.

Tennessee narrowed the gap to 11 (36-25) but Vandy closed the half with an 8-2 spurt to take a 44-27 lead to intermission.

The Vols opened the second half with a 9-2 run that trimmed the deficit to 46-36, and trailed just 49-38 when the roof caved in. Beal scored on a backdoor cut to ignite a 17-1 explosion that gave Vandy its biggest lead, 66-39, with 12:38 remaining.

The road gets no easier for the Big Orange. It travels to Lexington Saturday to face the third-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.


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