Vandy handles Alabama-Huntsville, 69-53

NASHVILLE-- John Jenkins scored 19 points and Festus Ezeli added 12 points as Vanderbilt held off pesky Alabama-Birmingham, 69-53, in a preseason game played at Memorial Gym on Wednesday night. The Commodores built a 31-16 lead with less than a minute to go in the first half only to see UAH cut the lead to eight just four minutes into the second half.

Alabama-Huntsville's Elliott Jones made a 3-point shot with 13:47 remaining in the game to pull the Chargers to within seven of the Commodores, 39-32. Vanderbilt answered with a 3-point shot by freshman Rod Odom to put the Commodores back up by 10. Festus Ezeli's jumper rebuilt the Commodore lead to 12 with 11 minutes to play. An Ezeli dunk followed up by a free throw put the 'Dores up by 15 with just under 10 minutes to play.

John Jenkin's fast break layup with 8:15 to play gave Vanderbilt its biggest lead of the game at 55-34 with 8:15 to play. Comfortable with the lead, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings cleared the bench and UAH, led by Zane Campbell with 16, was able pull the score to within 69-53 by the final buzzer.

Vanderbilt was held to just 39.3 percent field goal shooting in the first half but improved to 58 percent in the second half.

"I thought for the most part we defended pretty well, about as well as I could expect it at this time," said head coach Kevin Stallings after the game. "Our offense, they were packed in, and we gave in to the temptation to shoot a bunch of jump shots; we weren't making them."

Vanderbilt appeared somewhat rusty at the start of the game. Campbell made a 3-point shot to give UAH an early 3-0 lead. After two missed shots by Ezelli, Brad Tinsley finally connected on 1-of-2 free throws to get the Commodores on the board with 18:43 to play in the half.

Jeff Taylor 3-point shot with 16:10 to go in the half gave Vandy their first lead of the game at 4-3. UAH came back to tie the score at 6-6 and then 9-9 but back-to-back threes by John Jenkins and Brad Tinsley put Vanderbilt up 19-12 with 7:44 before the half and Vandy went on to cruise to a 31-19 lead at the break.

Perhaps the most exciting play of the game was a thunderous dunk by Ezeli midway through the second half.

"The whole game I felt I was getting fouled purposely to try to get me to take free throws so I expected them to foul me so I just went up strong," said a smiling Ezeli after the game.

Vanderbilt outrebounded UAH 36-29 and had nine blocked shots to none for the Chargers.

Also scoring for Vanderbilt was Jeffery Taylor with 11 and Brad Tinsley with 6. Lance Goulbourne, Steve Tchiengang, and Kyle Fuller each had 4 points.

Next up for Vanderbilt is another exhibition game, this time with Southern Indiana, on Monday night at 7 p.m. CT.


- Looks like Ezeli had built some more bulk and has worked on his free throws. His stroke looks great and he made 4-of-6 free throw attempts. Vandy made 20-of-27 as a team.
- Kyle Fuller is as quick as a cat and did a good job running the offense. He turned the ball over four times but he looks like he'll do great things for Vanderbilt.
- Rod Odom showed great leaping ability when he blocked a shot late in the game. He has a nice 3-point shot too.
- Official attendance was listed at 11,439 but it looked like about 5 to 7 thousand were actually there which isn't too bad for an exhibition game.

Kyle Fuller drives toward the basket to score a layup. (VM/Don Yates) Top Stories