Commodores hammer Vols on Senior Night

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Getting payback against an in-state rival makes for a very sweet victory.

Sweeping that opponent for the first time since 2009-10?

Even better.

Wade Baldwin IV scored 17 points, and the Vanderbilt Commodores routed Tennessee 86-69 Tuesday night for their fourth straight win and second this season over the Volunteers.

The Commodores (19-11, 11-6) now have won six of seven, and they remain a loss behind No. 22 Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference standings with a game remaining in the regular season. They went into Tuesday night tied with South Carolina and LSU and a game back of Kentucky and Texas A&M.

For the moment, the sweep meant a bit more.


”We all know about it and very happy that we beat Tennessee two times in a row,” Baldwin said. ”Last year was a bit of a struggle. We lost two times against them, and obviously the fans here are disappointed with that. They say `You can lose every game, but don’t lose to Tennessee.’ That’s kind of their motto. … We’re happy in the regular season to be 2-0 against them.”

Fined $100,000 by the SEC on Monday for fans rushing the court in Saturday’s upset of Kentucky, Vanderbilt fans didn’t get a chance to even think about leaving their seats to celebrate this sweep. Security, ushers and even a couple of top university officials lined up in front of the student section starting with 4:26 left.

”We love to have a stormed court, but obviously it’s not appropriate,” Baldwin said.

Damian Jones and Jeff Roberson each added 14 points for Vanderbilt. Nolan Cressler had 11.

”There were some things that obviously, as a coach, I would’ve liked to been better but, all in all, we’ll take it and move forward,” Vandy coach Kevin Stallings said.

Tennessee (13-17, 6-11) lost for the fifth time in six games. Shembari Phillips scored a game-high 23 points for the Vols, Armani Moore added 13 on a day where he had a fever that broke before tipoff and Admiral Schofield had 12.

”Obviously, our guys learned a lot tonight,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said after starting three freshmen.

The Vols played without leading scorer Kevin Punter who missed his fourth straight game with a stress fracture in his right foot, and Robert Hubbs III missed his second with an injured right knee.

Stallings gave rare starts to two senior reserves and a sixth-year grad student on Senior Night and Tennessee took advantage to lead at 6-4. The Vols last led at 16-15 on Detrick Mostella’s 3-pointer with 7:47 left.

Roberson’s 3-point play with 7:18 remaining started the Commodores on a 28-8 run to finish the half, putting Vanderbilt up 43-24 at halftime.

Vanderbilt pushed that to 21 when Baldwin’s jumper was changed on review to a 3-pointer with 16:27 left. With Tennessee driving to the bucket for layup after layup, the Vols pulled within 59-49 with 11:02 to go on a pair of free throws by Phillips.

The Commodores used their defense to start them on a 15-0 run. Matthew Fisher-Davis stole the ball and passed to Cressler for a layup, and Baldwin got a steal on the next possession. Camron Justice got a steal to set up his own layup, and Baldwin’s two free throws gave Vandy its biggest lead at 74-49 lead with 7:14 remaining.

Tennessee: The Vols struggled with foul trouble and were outscored at the line where they were 6 of 8 compared to Vandy (7 of 21). … The Vols also were outscored 44-28 in the paint.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores got only a point off the bench in upsetting Kentucky on Saturday on the final free throw of the game. With three usual starters coming off the bench, their bench outscored the Vols 62-14.

SENIOR NIGHT: The trio of rare starters in Vanderbilt’s home finale included Josh Henderson, a graduate student wrapping up his sixth year due to injuries, while Carter Josephs made the second start of his career. Walk-on Nathan Watkins started for the first time in his career, and he even scored Vanderbilt’s first bucket of the game. They went to the bench with 16:53 left, replaced by Baldwin, Roberson and Luke Kornet.

Tennessee: Hosts Mississippi on Saturday.

Vanderbilt: Visits No. 20 Texas A&M on Saturday.