Commodores pour in 3s, rout Vols in Knoxville


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt relied on its usual formula to beat Tennessee under unusual circumstances.

Wade Baldwin IV scored a career-high 25 points and Matthew Fisher-Davis added 18 off the bench Thursday night as Vanderbilt utilized a prohibitive edge from 3-point range in an 88-74 victory over Tennessee.

Vanderbilt (11-7, 3-3 SEC) outscored Tennessee 39-12 on 3-pointers, including a 30-0 margin in the first half. Vanderbilt led by as many as 28 points on a snowy evening that produced a smaller crowd and less hostile atmosphere than the Commodores typically encounter when visiting Thompson-Boling Arena.

“It just didn’t feel like the normal environment and understandably so, the roads are horrible,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “It kind of had a funky feeling to it all the way around. Nevertheless, you still have to play. You have to perform. They’re not an easy team to play and they’re not an easy team to beat, so we’re happy to get in here and get a victory.”

After losing its first three SEC games, Vanderbilt has won three straight to rejuvenate its NCAA Tournament hopes. The Commodores have turned things around by sinking 3-pointers and preventing opponents from making long-range shots.

Vanderbilt entered the night ranked fourth among all Division I teams in 3-point percentage defense (.275) and 14th in 3-point percentage (.409). The Commodores were 10 of 22 from 3-point range in the first half Wednesday and finished 13 of 33. Tennessee was 4 of 20 and missed its first nine attempts.

“You could say that’s Coach Stallings’ philosophy,” Baldwin said. “We definitely emphasize taking away the 3. We’d rather have them score on a contested two than on a layup or a 3-point shot.”

Luke Kornet had 10 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks for Vanderbilt. Camron Justice scored 12 points and Jeff Roberson added 11 with 10 boards.

Kevin Punter Jr. scored 26 points to lead Tennessee (9-9, 2-4). Armani Moore added 14 points in his return to Tennessee’s lineup after missing a game with an ankle injury. Robert Hubbs III had 10 points.

“We were just awful,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores are 9-0 when Luke Kornet attempts more two-point shots than 3-pointers. Kornet was 3 of 8 on Thursday and didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer.

Tennessee: Detrick Mostella shot just 2 of 13 overall and 1 of 7 from 3-point range while scoring eight points. Mostella had scored in double figures four straight games, including a career-high 24 points Saturday in a victory at Mississippi State.

Vanderbilt managed to build a big lead even after starting center Damian Jones encountered foul trouble.

Jones picked up his second foul less than eight minutes into the game and sat the rest of the first half, but Vanderbilt outscored Tennessee 30-15 during that stretch.

“That usually doesn’t happen, but it was very helpful for us,” Stallings said of his team’s ability to extend the lead with Jones on the bench. “Damian’s kind of snakebit with the foul thing for now. We’ve got to work to keep him out of foul trouble.

Jones eventually fouled out with six points — less than half his season average — and seven rebounds.

Barnes opted against wearing the orange blazer that Tennessee coaches often bring out for matchups with Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Former Tennessee coach Ray Mears had started that tradition. Tennessee’s last three coaches — Bruce Pearl, Cuonzo Martin and Donnie Tyndall — also wore orange blazers for games with Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Barnes said this week he didn’t want to do something that might call attention to himself. Barnes added that he might wear an orange blazer if it was later auctioned off to benefit a charity.

Vanderbilt: At No. 23 Kentucky on Saturday.

Tennessee: Hosts No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday.