After Cincinnati took an early 2-0 lead, Vanderbilt's Mario Moore made a 3-point shot to give Vanderbilt a 3-2 lead. Vanderbilt was able to rebound well early and stretched its lead quickly to 9-2 off a Ted Skuchas field goal just 2 minutes into the game. Later, two Alex Gordon free throws pushed Vandy's lead to 19-10.
Taking advantage of Vanderbilt turnovers, Cincinnati slowly started to chip away at the lead. Two Armein Kirkland free throws tied the score at 19-19 with 9:41 remaining.
With 8 minutes remaining in the first half Kirkland made a 3-point shot to give the Bearcats a 24-21 lead; but Moore answered with his own 3-pointer for Vanderbilt to tie the score. A layup by Jihad Muhammad would extend the Cincinnati lead to 35-26 with 5:00 remaining in the half.
Dawid Przybyszewski scored a 3-point goal followed by a Jason Holwerda layup to cut the Bearcat lead to 35-31 with four minutes remaining in the half. But the Bearcats would close the half on an 11-0 run. A Chadd Moore layup after a Corey Smith turnover gave the Bearcats a 46-31 lead at the half.
Vanderbilt played Cincinnati evenly in the second half but could never cut into the lead enough to make a game of it. Przybyszewski hit back to back 3-pointers to pull Vandy to within 13 at 59-46 with 13:35 remaining in the game. Przybyszewski played well offensively and finished with 13 points, including four 3-point shots.
The Commodores' last real threat came when freshman Alex Gordon was awarded a basket on a goaltending call to pull the Commodores to within 68-59 with 8:44 remaining. But Vanderbilt would not be able to maintain the momentum. A Jason Maxiell dunk stretched the lead back to 20 at 83-63 with four minutes remaining.
A James White layup gave Cincinnati its biggest lead of the game at 23 at 86-63 with 3:32 remaining in game. Vanderbilt took advantage of liberal Bearcat substitutions the last few minutes of the game and scored nine of the final 11 points for an 88-72 final score.
"The story of the game was our turnovers and our play the last two minutes of the first half," said Commodore head coach Kevin Stallings. "It's my job to make sure we do a better job of taking care of the ball.
"The thing that bothers me tonight is that we had unforced turnovers. There are some turnovers that you make that the defense does a great job, they deflect the ball, and you can live with those. It's the ones that don't make much sense, that are unforced, that you don't understand."
Vanderbilt next hosts TCU Dec. 19 at Memorial Gymnasium.
Cincinnati guard Jihad Muhammad, rear, reaches in to steal the ball from Vanderbilt guard Alex Gordon in the first half. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)