Jan. 10, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- It's been two Southeastern Conference games and two lights-out shooting performances from Vanderbilt and the league's leading scorer John Jenkins.
Jenkins had all but two of his 14 points in the second half and four of Vanderbilt's 13 3-pointers as the Commodores built a 24-point lead before holding on to defeat South Carolina 67-57 on Tuesday night. It was Vanderbilt's sixth straight win and second consecutive SEC blowout after a 65-35 win over Auburn to start league play last Saturday.
"I sure hope so" Jenkins said when asked if the on-target, long-range barrage can continue throughout the SEC season. "We work hard at It every day. It's good to see the hard work pay off."
Even if it took a half to truly get it going.
The Commodores (12-4, 2-0 SEC) had only 15 attempts and were held to 22 points in the opening period. Still, their defense and South Carolina's struggles from the outside gave them a 22-12 lead at the break. Jenkins, who had just a bucket the first 20 minutes, found his shooting touch with two wide-open 3's that were part of 24-13 run as Vanderbilt took control of things. The Commodores led by 24 points before South Carolina's 14-0 run the final 4 minutes made the game look closer than it really was.
"Well, I really liked how our team played," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "Obviously, some things I didn't like."
That would be Vanderbilt's 19 turnovers, 11 of those coming in the opening half. Stallings took his team at halftime to concentrate on taking care of the basketball and rebounding -- South Carolina was ahead 9- 2 in offensive rebounds the first 20 minutes -- and the offensive flow would come.
Boy, was Stallings right.
Jenkins got things going in the second half and his teammates followed right along. Jenkins, the SEC's leading scorer at 20.3 points a game coming in, hit two wide-open 3's less than two minutes into the period as the Commodores moved in front 32-15. Jeffery Taylor added a 3 before Rod Odom, Jenkins and Dai-Jon Parker had long-range baskets on three straights trips and Vanderbilt increased the lead to 21 points.
When Taylor struck for another 3-pointer -- and Vanderbilt's 13th -- the Commodores were up 67-47.
Vanderbilt finished 13 of 22 from behind the arc against South Carolina after a 13 of 29 long-range performance in the Auburn win. Jenkins went 5 of 8 on 3-pointers and scored 17 points against the Tigers.
"They're a terrific offensive team and they showed that tonight," South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said.
Brad Tinsley had 13 points, three 3-pointers and nine assists for the Commodores. Jeffery Taylor had 11 points and Steve Tchiengang added 10 for Vanderbilt.
Bruce Ellington had 20 points to lead the Gamecocks (8-8, 0-2). Damontre Harris had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Gamecocks.
Vanderbilt entered this one off a stellar defensive showing, holding Auburn to 35 points in 30-point victory in the Commodores' SEC opener. They came out just as solid against South Carolina.
The Gamecocks were held to five baskets, shot 19.2 percent and managed just 12 first-half points. The fact that South Carolina wasn't down by 30 was only because of some gritty defense of its own. Vanderbilt committed 11 turnovers in the period, as many as it's averaged in a game this season.
Jenkins, the SEC's leading scorer at 20.3 points a game, was limited to a bucket on two chances. But the focus on Jenkins left Tinsley open on the outside. He hit three 3-pointers -- matching his season's best showing this year -- in the half. Two of those came in 12-2 run late in the period that put the Commodores ahead 18-10.
The Commodores had trouble squeezing off shots against the Gamecocks' defense, but made of the most of their opportunities. Vanderbilt shot 53 percent (8 of 15) in the half to lead 22-12 at the break.
The Gamecocks had difficulty shooting over Vanderbilt's packed in defense. They missed all eight of their 3-point attempts, several which were desperation shots to beat the shot clock.
South Carolina, 79-64 losers at Kentucky last Saturday, had hoped a return home and a crowd of students back from break at the Colonial Life Arena would carry the team to league victory. Instead, the Gamecocks managed their fewest points in the first half since trailing Georgia 28-9 in a game here they'd eventually lose 60-56 last February.
Ellington had 18 of his 20 points in the second half. He was 1-of-5 shooting in the first period before making all seven of his attempts after the break Ellington, who also played football for South Carolina's record-setting, 11-win team, finished with his most points since returning to the court.
"I told him guys like him make me mad because he is better than I could have thought of being," Stallings joked about South Carolina's star point guard.