"It was a very odd game," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "It was a frustrating game to watch. We started very well and we were playing with energy and moving the ball well. It was a tale of two halves.
Auburn turned the ball over 11 times in the second half and made only 3-26 shots for 11.5 percent. Meanwhile the Commodores came out of halftime on fire, making 16-24 shots from the floor and 4-8 threes.
"In the second half we kind of ran out of gas," said senior guard Nathan Watson, who played all 40 minutes. "We weren't hitting our shots. It was just one of those games where the shots weren't falling like they were in the last two games."
Nathan Watson scores one of Auburn's 13 field goals.
For the game Auburn made only 13-50 shots for 26 percent. Vanderbilt made 22-51 shots for 43.1 percent, but the biggest story of the game was turnovers. Seven out of 10 Auburn players who saw the floor had as many or more turnovers than points.
Auburn, which fell to 12-12 overall and 3-8 in the SEC, got off to a hot start and a 22-7 lead thanks to aggressive defensive play and a quick 11 points by Watson. However, that's when everything started falling apart. After some sloppy Auburn offense and several turnovers, Vanderbilt went on an 11-0 run to close the deficit to 22-18. Auburn held a 26-21 lead at halftime.
Despite the easy baskets at the end of the half for Vanderbilt, the ‘Dores made only 6-27 shots--2-16 from behind the three-point line--for 22.2 percent. Vanderbilt's leading scorer at the half was forward Corey Smith, with seven.
"They pressured (Ian Young and Toney Douglas) very hard and made them put it on the floor and made them drive to the basket," Lebo said. "They are going to be games when you're going to miss shots, but they had 28 points off our turnovers--most of those resulting in lay-ups."
In the first half, Auburn out-rebounded Vanderbilt 21-17 and made 10-24 shots for 41.7 percent, but 10 turnovers, four by Douglas, kept the game close. Douglas, the nation's leading freshman scorer at 18 points per contest, had no points at the break on 0-7 shooting. He didn't score his first points until the 5:31 mark in the second half, long after teammate Frank Tolbert had already fouled out.
Vanderbilt started the second half in the same fashion it ended the first half. After more Auburn turnovers and several questionable officiating calls in favor of Vanderbilt, the Commodores scored the first 21 points of the second half to claim a 42-26 lead with 12:58 remaining.
"They started pressuring us a little more and we had to make more cuts," Watson said. "We got stationary and it hurt us in the long run."
The leading scorer for Vanderbilt was Smith with 19 points. He was the only Commodore in double figures scoring. Julian Terrell added eight points and nine boards.
Quinnel Brown scores on a layup.
For Auburn, Watson led the way in scoring and rebounding with 16 and eight. Quinnel Brown had 11 points and four rebounds. Douglas finished with five points and Young finished with two.
A crowd of just 3,455 watched Auburn surprisingly out-rebound the Commodores 38-35, but 21 turnovers were costly for the Tigers, who had eight more than the visitors.
The Tigers were dominated inside, too. Vandy had 32 points in the paint to 12 for the Tigers.
The Commodores improved to 5-6 in the SEC and 15-10 overall.
The next two games for the Tigers are on the road, starting with a game at 3 p.m. CST on Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs, who are 1-10 in league play.