Vandy struggled to score early in the contest and it appeared as if it might three-peat the lowly 43 point offensive outputs of the previous two games. Vanderbilt was held scoreless in the first 4:58 of the contest with freshman Dawid Przybyszewski ending the drought with a jumper to make it 6-2 Tennessee. Przybyszewski went on to score 4 points in 11 minutes of action. Corey Smith tied the score at 9-9 after he hit a free throw with 12:11 remaining in the half.
Vanderbilt took it's first lead at 11-9 with Brian Thornton field goal with 11:27 remaining in the half. Thornton would go on to score 10 points and pull down 11 rebounds in a stellar performance by the freshman from Louisville. Vanderbilt's lead grew to 19-11 with 9:25 remaining in the first half after a Matt Freije score. Freije would go on to lead Vandy in scoring at 18. At the 7:00 minute mark the lead bulged to 26-15 on a Scott Hundley jumper.
Tennessee battled back to cut the lead to 34-28 with less than a minute remaining in the half but Russell Lakey drilled a 3-point shot as the first half ended to make the score Vanderbilt 37 Tennessee 28 at the half.
In the second half it looked as if the Commodores would falter early on. Tennessee went on a 10-0 run and tied the score at 41 with 16:00 remaining in the game. A Chuck Moore layup gave Vandy back the lead seconds later. Sloppy UT play coupled with scrappy Vanderbilt play enabled the Commodores to maintain the lead. The Vols committed 18 turnovers to the 'Dores 15. A Dawid Przybyszewski rejection of a John Higgins shot with 9 minutes remaining greatly helped the Vanderbilt cause.
Tennessee tied the score at 51 on a Dennis Grindstath 3-pointer with 8 minutes remaining. A flurry of 3-point shots by Vandy's Lakey, Smith and Freije enabled Vanderbilt to build a 62-53 lead over the Vols with 4 minutes remaining.
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A 3-point shot by John Higgins pulled the Vols to within 2 at 64-62 with 1:00 remaining. Vandy's Russell Lakey and Chuck Moore made 3 of 4 free throws down the stretch to preserve the win for the visiting team.
The win is just Vanderbilt's 19th in Knoxville since the 1921-22 season. Vanderbilt has defeated Tennessee in Knoxville four times since the 1990-91 season.
The Commodores improve to 15-12 overall and 5-9 SEC with the win. Vanderbilt has at least three remaining games to play. Two regular season games against Kentucky (home) and at Arkansas; and one game in the SEC tournament against an opponent to be determined. Short of winning the SEC tourney, Vanderbilt will need to win the last two regular season games and at least two SEC tourney games to even have a shot at the NCAA. To qualify for the NIT the 'Dores will need to win at least one of the three remaining contests.
Vanderbilt hosts the Kentucky Wildcats Wednesday night at 7:00 PM CST in Memorial Gym.