Commodores Hold Off Bucknell, 80-68

Following Sunday's upset loss to Cleveland State, the Commodores responded by holding off the Bucknell Bison with a convincing second half performance despite the absence of John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli.

After a slow start in the first half, the No. 20 Vanderbilt Commodores overpowered the visiting Bucknell Bison, 80-68. After connecting on just two of 15 three-point attempts in the first, the Commodores founds their stride in the second half to shoot 8-15 from distance and outscore the Bison 53-42 in the final 20 minutes of play.

The win comes in the absence of sharpshooter John Jenkins, who sat out Tuesday night's game with a sprained right ankle. Following the game, Kevin Stallings said that Jenkins tweaked his ankle in the first half of Sunday's disappointing loss to Cleveland State. Alongside injured center Festus Ezeli, Jenkins makes the second returning starter to be sidelined due to injury this season.

"We were obviously short-handed going into the game," Stallings said. "Being short-handed is a challenge. Without (Jenkins), we knew we were going to have to take jump shots because they do everything to take your inside game away. Fortunately, we made some shots in the second half."

Stallings went on to say that he expects Jenkins to return to action this weekend against North Carolina State.

After leading by just one point at the half, Vanderbilt took advantage of a 12-2 run early in the second half capped by a Jeffery Taylor three-pointer from the corner. Taylor finished with a team-high 14 points alongside six rebounds in just 23 minutes of play. After picking up his second foul with just under seven minutes remaining in the first, Taylor was not substituted back into the game until the second half.

True freshman guard Kedren Johnson had another impressive game coming off the bench, adding 12 points in 24 minutes of play. Johnson made up for the poor shooting of fellow freshman Dai-Jon Parker and senior Brad Tinsley, who combined to shoot seven for 25 from the field and just two for 14 from distance. Although sophomore Kyle Fuller started the game at point guard, he played just 17 minutes throughout the game.

"Kedren really gave us a boost," Stallings said. "Our whole bench played well tonight. We've struggled with good play from the bench in the first couple games, and tonight our bench played well."

Bucknell's forward Joe Willman led all scorers with 17 points on eight of 12 shooting, again exposing Vanderbilt's problem with post defense without Festus Ezeli. Overall, Bucknell outscored Vanderbilt 28-26 in the paint.

Guard Bryson Johnson, usually a three-point threat, was locked down by Jeff Taylor for most of Tuesday's matchup. He managed just four points.

"He's a great cutter. He's a great shooter," Stallings said. "We thought Jeff [Taylor's] height would be significant. That's a testament to Jeff."

The Commodores continue play in the Legends Classic this Saturday in East Ruthorford, New Jersey at 5:30 p.m. against the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Vanderbilt Commodores forward Lance Goulbourne (5) shoots over Bucknell Bison guard Bryan Cohen (4) during the first half at Memorial Gym. (Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE) Top Stories