Vanderbilt Survives Arkansas, 75-58

Jeffery Taylor (AP/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE-- On Sunday, the Vanderbilt Commodores did something that they have never done before during the Kevin Stallings reign: win their final home game. Vandy improved to 19-11 (8-8 SEC) as five players scored in double figures for the Black and Gold.

Freshman Jeff Taylor scored 16 points and ripped down 10 rebounds.

"These last games that don't have a lot riding on them are often difficult to play. We certainly lost our fair share of them. I'm proud of our effort. I didn't think that we had 100% of our energy early. I thought we were most of the way there, but not 100%. Our defense in the second half was really good. [Courtney] Fortson wore us out in the first half. Jermaine Beal stepped up in the second half and did a good job on him. We did a good job on the boards. To hold them to 23 points in the second half was significant. I'm happy to get back to .500 in the league. To go from 1-5 to 8-8 is quite an accomplishment," Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said after the game.

The Commodores got off to a good start for the third straight game opening with a 7-2 run that was started by a Brad Tinsley three on their first possession of the game and ended by an A.J. Ogilvy layup. "We are playing our best basketball right now and I think that will be great for us coming into the tournament," Tinsley said.

Vandy opened up a 22-12 lead on a two made free throws by Jeffery Taylor with 10:57 to go in the first half. Taylor talked about finishing strong after the game, "I think it says a lot about our team's character for us to come back like that. I think we're one of the best 65 teams in the country, but it all depends on who can make it to the tournament."

A Rontei Clarke jumper would tie the game at 30 with 3:35 to play in the first half, but a 9-2 Commodore run put them ahead 39-32. Arkansas's Courtney Fortson would hit a three at the first half buzzer to cut the lead to 39-35 at halftime.

The Black and Gold would control the game in the second half. A 14-0 run to end the game put an exclamation point on the SEC schedule that saw the Dores start 1-5 but end strong to finish at 8-8. Razorback Coach John Pelphrey was impressed with the Vandy strong finish, "I will say this, they are 8-8 now in league play and that's pretty impressive. I know what it's like to be staring at 1-5. For Coach Stallings and his team to stay together and get where they are today, they are to be commended. That is a very, very difficult hole to from out of. They should be applauded for that." In addition to the 16 from Taylor, Vanderbilt got double figures from Tinsley with 13, Ogilvy with 12, Beal with 11 and Festus Ezeli with 10.

The Razorbacks got double figures from Fortson with 18 and Clarke with 17.

Vanderbilt will face Alabama on Thursday (6:30 p.m. CST) at the SEC Tournament in Tampa.

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