NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Visiting South Carolina shot 54.9 percent from the field and scored 34 points in the paint en route to defeating Vanderbilt 72–70 at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Commodores (9-4, 1-1 SEC).
Myles Stute paced Vandy with 19 points while Jordan Wright added 15. Scotty Pippen Jr., Vanderbilt’s leading scorer, finished with 17 and went 9-for-10 from the line.
Trailing by as many as 11 late, Vanderbilt got five in a row to regain hope trailing 64–58. It struggled to break that threshold until a Quentin Millora-Brown two-handed dunk off a pick-and-roll made it a 66-62 game with 3:46 on the clock.
Pippen’s fadeaway in the lane got the Commodores to 69–67 with 94 seconds remaining. With 12 seconds to play, Stute made one of two free throws before James Reese converted one of his two free throws on the other end—putting the score at 72–70 South Carolina.
That left the home team 6.3 seconds left to draw up a final play, but the Commodores couldn’t get a last shot up.
Vanderbilt will host No. 16 Kentucky (11-3, 1-1 SEC) at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“It was very physical. I think it was probably one of the more physical games that we’ve played so far,” Stute said. “Probably one of the more physical teams that we’ll see in the SEC. So it was a good challenge for us in the physicality department.
“I don’t think we shied away from that. I don’t think we backed down. They got a few balls to bounce their way tonight and that was the game.”
A back-and-forth start saw Vanderbilt edge ahead 11–9 on the strength of two Stute triples. Jamaine Mann converted a three-point play at the 8:42 mark to extend Vandy’s advantage to 19–15.
Tyrin Lawrence’s steal and two-handed slam gave the Commodores a 22–17 lead, and minutes later Pippen hit a runner in the lane to push the margin to 29–23. But the Gamecocks went on a 9-0 run and took a 32–29 lead on Reese’s breakaway dunk.
South Carolina held on for a 34–32 advantage at the break. The Gamecocks shot 64 percent from the floor but were held back by 13 turnovers.
Vandy, meanwhile, got just two points from leading scorer Pippen and registered 10 miscues while shooting at 38.5 percent.
South Carolina kept the pressure up to begin the second half and built a 45–37 lead with a Reese 3 out of the right corner less than five minutes into the period. But Vandy fought back with a 11-4 run to creep to 49–48 with 11:33 remaining.
The Gamecocks sternly responded with eight straight, making it 57–49 with 9:45 on the clock and then stretched the margin to 10 with 9:19 to play. Jermaine Couisnard’s three-point play two minutes later gave South Carolina a 64–53 lead—a lead that held until the very end.
Reese scored 13 to lead the Gamecocks (10-4, 2-1 SEC). South Carolina also got 30 points from its bench in the victory.
“Every game is tough. We know that. In this league there’s no nights off. South Carolina is a very good team,” Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “We knew that they had a couple disappointing outings, slow starts. They were hungry. They came out and did what they had to do. Now it’s our chance to bounce back and respond.
“It was great to get that first win. Would have been even better to come back and start 2-0. But this one’s gone.”
• Pippen is now 42nd on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list with 1,097 career points. Luke Kornet (11,35) is 41st.
• Vandy is now 32-30 all-time against South Carolina and 19-13 in home games against the Gamecocks.
• The Commodores have now forced 14 turnovers or more in 10 games this season.
• Trey Thomas has now played in 39 straight games for the Commodores.
• Wright has started 29 straight games for Vanderbilt.
• Attendance was announced as 5,581.
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