By Zac Ellis
On campus in Nashville – Against Texas A&M on Thursday, Vanderbilt did something it hadn’t done in a long time: close out a home game. The Commodores (13-13, 6-7 SEC) won at Memorial Gym for the first time since Jan. 28 against Iowa State by rallying from 11 points down to beat Texas A&M (13-12, 5-8 SEC), 72-67.
Let’s clean the glass from Vanderbilt’s win:
THE SKINNY: Texas A&M led by as many as 11 in the early goings of the first half thanks to a number of easy shots in the paint. But Vanderbilt soon found its footing from deep, hitting a flurry of 3-pointers during a five-minute stretch to take the lead, 35-34, at half. In the second half, the Commodores hit 15 of their 18 free throws and won the rebounding battle (22-18) to keep pace with Texas A&M. Vanderbilt’s defense won the day in the end, keeping the Aggies without a field goal for the final 4:17 to seal the win.
TURNING POINT: The Commodores used one key stretch in the first half to thwart a potential Texas A&M rout. Matthew Fisher-Davis hit a 3-pointer at 10:16 and kicked off a rally of six Vanderbilt treys, a run capped by Jeff Roberson’s 3-pointer at 5:18. That shot gave Vanderbilt a 28-27 lead that lead to a 35-34 edge at halftime.
IMPACT PLAYER: Luke Kornet. Vanderbilt’s senior center went 0-4 and scored no points in the first half, but he looked like a veteran after intermission. Kornet finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, including 5-of-5 on free throws. The seven-footer also came up big on defense; he swatted five shots and made the game-stealing block on an Admon Gilder layup with 47 seconds to play.
STARTLING STAT: 38 – combined points for Texas A&M big men Tyler Davis and Robert Williams. That duo dominated the post against Vanderbilt, helping the Aggies score 42 points in the paint and grab 15 offensive boards as a team. Davis and Williams also limited Kornet to zero first-half points. The Commodores managed to rally for a win despite an excellent outing from Texas A&M’s post players.
WHAT IT MEANS: Vanderbilt was able to erase the memory of last week’s 72-52 loss at Missouri with its fourth win in six games. It was the ‘Dores’ first win at home against an SEC team since Jan. 17 against Georgia.
QUOTABLE: “The guys really dug in in the last three minutes. We got the defensive stops that we needed to win the game… For them to grind out a win in this when we were down and weren’t playing great, that’s a great compliment to them.” –Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew
WHAT’S NEXT: Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina on Saturday as part of “Equality Weekend,” when the university will honor several Nashville-area civil rights figures in celebration of Black History Month. The Commodores and Gamecocks tip off at 730 p.m. CT.