Vanderbilt storms back at Georgia, 64-56

ATHENS-- Down by 14 points with 13 minutes to play, John Jenkins got hot and scored 21 points to lead Vanderbilt to a 64-56 road win over Georgia. The win keeps the Commodores in sole possession of second place in the SEC East and puts them within striking distance of first-place Florida.

Trailing 40-26 with 14:34 to play the chances of Vanderbilt pulling off a vital road win looked bleak but John Jenkins, who had been held scoreless up to that point, would have none of that. The sophomore sharpshooter came off the bench after struggling earlier in the game and proceeded to score 21 points in leading his team to a gigantic win away from Memorial Gym.

Jenkins' first score of the game came with 13:16 to go. The 3-pointer pulled Vandy within 11, at 40-29. A little over a minute later Jeffery Taylor's three, only his second basket of the game, pulled the Commodores to within 10. Another Jenkins three with 8:44 to play got Vandy to within 7 at 53-46.

While the Vanderbilt's offense was finally starting to click after a sluggish first half, head coach Kevin Stallings switched to a man-to-man defense late in the game and the move paid dividends. The Commodores forced several turnovers and missed shots in the final minutes of the game.

Brad Tinsley got into the act with 4:47 to play when he drilled a 3-pointer to pull his team within one, 53-52. Another trey by the red hot Jenkins tied the score at 55. Jenkins finished the game with 5-of-10 threes made.

Jenkins canned a jumper with 2:51 to play which gave Vanderbilt its first lead since the opening minutes of the game. In the final minutes of the game Jenkins' free throw skill took over. Two free throws by Jenkins gave Stallings boys a 60-56 lead with 20 seconds to play.

In the final moments of the game Georgia head coach Mark Fox reached his breaking point and blew up after what he felt was a missed call. Fox was called for a technical foul and Jenkins calmly sank two free throws to seal a rare Commodore road victory.

Vandy struggled in the first half as the two teams each played tough defense to setup a low scoring game. The Commodores managed just 22 percent accuracy from the field and made only 3-of-13 attempt from 3-point range. Vanderbilt had an early 3-2 lead but Georgia would take the lead 5-3 on a 3-point shot by Nashville native Gerald Robinson. The Bulldogs would go on to lead by as many as nine in the opening stanza but a 3-pointer by Vandy's Rod Odom would make the halftime score 27-21 in Georgia's favor.

After the game a happy Stallings said his team wasn't in a panic at the half and knew they were due some made shots.

"Our three leading scorers were one for twenty-three at half time, Festus was one for eight," said Stallings. "I told the guys we are only down by six and our three leading scorers were 1-for-23. We thought at half time we weren't in bad shape."

Jenkins, the SEC's leading scorer, said his first three of the second half gave him the confidence to make more.

"Their defense was so good, it was hard to do anything," said Jenkins. "I got one good look, and that gave me some confidence for the rest of the game."

In addition to Jenkins' 21 points, Vanderbilt also got 11 points from Odom and 10 from Festus Ezeli. Ezeli finished with a double-double by pulling down 12 rebounds. He also blocked an impressive seven shots.

Vanderbilt improves to 19-6 (7-4 SEC). Next up for the Commodores is a visit Auburn on Saturday. Georgia falls to 17-8 (6-5 SEC). The Bulldogs travel to Tennessee on Saturday. Vanderbilt now leads its all-time series with Georgia, 85-48.

Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli (3) stuffs it in the second half of a college basketball game against Georgia, Wednesday, Feb. 16. 2011. Vanderbilt won 64-56. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Top Stories