Feb. 22, 2014
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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings turned to the walk-ons to get his team out of its early funk.
Then, the Commodores finished the job with Dai-Jon Parker and a barrage of 3-pointers. Parker scored a career-high 21 points and Vanderbilt rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Auburn 67-59 on Saturday.
The Commodores (15-11, 7-7 SEC) made 10 of 18 3-pointers in the second half after hitting just one before halftime. With Rod Odom nursing a sore leg and the team struggling, Stallings turned to walk-ons Nathan Watkins and Carter Josephs for a spark with 8 minutes left in the half.
"Our bench by and large was better than our starters," Stallings said. "That hasn't happened much but I wasn't going to watch that garbage that I watched the first eight or nine minutes. We were down and I said to hell with that, we're going to put some guys in who are going to play hard."
The Tigers (12-13, 4-10) have lost four of five games and had a late scoring drought of 4 minutes, 28 seconds. They had flirted with an upset of No. 2 Florida this week before making mistakes in the final seconds.
"It was a tough last 30 minutes, not just the second half," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "No matter how bad we shoot the ball offensively, you can always have energy. Guard, defend and play tough and communicate, and the last 30 minutes of the game we didn't do that. It's disappointing. I tried to warn the guys of the letdown."
Parker led Vandy's 3-point barrage with three in a row during an 18-4 run early in the second half. He was 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
Damian Jones scored 14 points and Luke Kornet added 10.
KT Harrell and Chris Denson each scored 13 points for Auburn. But that was 14 shy of the combined average for the nation's No. 2 scoring duo.
Harrell was just 4-of-15 shooting and Denson made 3 of 15 shots.
"I can't remember the last time they were both off at the same time," Barbee said.
Vanderbilt, which had lost three of four games, trailed 29-13 with less than seven minutes remaining in the first half before pulling to within seven by halftime.
The Commodores were 23-of-52 shooting (44.2 percent) in addition to clamping down on the Tigers' shooters. Auburn was 21 of 62 (33.9 percent) and made just 4 of 24 3-pointers (16.7 percent).
Kyle Fuller's 3-pointer with 2:28 left gave Vanderbilt its biggest lead, 66-57.
Auburn didn't end its drought until Allen Payne's jumper in the final minute.
Parker hit three consecutive 3-pointers during an 18-4 run early in the second half to give the Commodores their first lead, going ahead 43-38. Vandy's six baskets during that stretch were all 3s.
Then Tahj Shamsid-Deen scored on three consecutive possessions for Auburn and tied it 45-45 with a 3-pointer with 12:33 left. Those were his only seven points.
Odom, who came in averaging a team-high 14.5 points, didn't score until midway through the second half. He followed that up with a pair of 3-pointers and finished with eight points. Stallings said Odom took a knee to the thigh in Friday night's practice "and we weren't even sure if he was going to play."
The Commodores, down to seven scholarship players, had to turn to the walk-ons with several starters having foul trouble.
Watkins, who hadn't played more than two minutes in a game, had seven points in 16 minutes. Carter Josephs dished out nine assists with no turnovers.
"I didn't see it coming," Watkins said. "I know Rod hurt his leg a little bit in practice but between the slow start and that, coach told me to go in. It was a new experience, the first time I've ever played real minutes in a regular season game.
"When Carter and I went in, I guess we got the spark we needed to start the comeback."
The comeback win came after the Commodores had fallen short after erasing most of an eight-point deficit over the final two-plus minutes in a 67-64 road loss to Missouri on Wednesday.