NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jeffery Taylor scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half, and the Vanderbilt Commodores bounced back Tuesday night by routing their instate rival Tennessee 65-47 for their ninth win in 10 games.
The Commodores (15-5, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) had an eight-game winning streak snapped with an overtime loss to then-No. 20 Mississippi State. This time, they scored the first nine points of the game in rolling to another win.
The loss ruined Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin's debut in the orange blazer made famous by Ray Mears, then Bruce Pearl. The Vols (9-11, 1-4) fell to 0-6 in true road games, had a season-low point total and looked nothing like the group that upset defending national champion Connecticut 60-57 last weekend.
John Jenkins, the SEC's leading scorer, had 16 points.
Jeronne Maymon led Tennessee with 15 points. Freshman Jarnell Stokes had 10 rebounds but only six points in the fourth game of his very short career. It was his second straight start.
These teams are the SEC's stingiest scoring defenses with Vandy holding opponents to 59 points and Tennessee allowing 60 points in league play. The Vols couldn't slow down Vanderbilt and especially Taylor. After being swept by Tennessee in two of his first three seasons, Taylor scored six of Vanderbilt's first 11 points, and he also had seven rebounds in the first half.
Even with the Commodores comfortably ahead, Taylor kept playing hard. He stole the ball from Wes Washpun and tossed it to Jenkins before going out of bounds, and Taylor finished the possession with a 3-pointer with 6:50 left.
Vanderbilt led by as much as 54-27 on a 3-pointer by Dai-Jon Parker. The Commodores shot 8 of 18 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range against a Tennessee defense that had been holding SEC teams to 25.8 percent beyond the arc.
Tennessee couldn't have been much sloppier with 10 turnovers midway through the first half, and the Vols also struggled to shoot. They hit just 7 of 24 (29.2 percent) in the first half. They also finished with a season-high 25 turnovers that Vanderbilt turned into 30 points.
The Commodores had no such problems against a Tennessee defense that held Florida, Kentucky and UConn to its lowest scoring games this season.
Jenkins hit a 3, then Lance Goulbourne added another to push Vanderbilt's lead to double digits for the first time at 20-8 with 10:37 left. The Commodores looked ready to run Tennessee out of the gym, jumping out to a 30-10 lead on a putback by Taylor with 5:46 left.
The Vols showed some signs of life when officials called senior Festus Ezeli for a flagrant foul with an apparent blow to Stokes' head, and the freshman hit a pair of free throws. The two drew a technical apiece in the second half when Stokes bumped into Ezeli after drawing a foul from the senior.
Maymon scored, then stole the ball from Goulbourne and passed it to Trae Golden for a dunk. Brad Tinsley brought the crowd to its feet with consecutive dunks 17 seconds apart late in the half, the second as he drove past Skylar McBee.
That was the Vols' best spurt as Vanderbilt cruised to the win and had the student section chanting in celebration with plenty of time left in the game.