Hard-charging Commodores defeated by Baylor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Baylor’s 3-point shooters were too much for Vanderbilt on Thursday night.

The Bears made 10 of 18 shots from beyond the 3-point arc, leading Baylor to a 66-63 win over Vanderbilt in the Big 12/SEC Challenge at Memorial Gym.

Baylor forward Royce O’Neale scored 22 points and Taurean Prince added 19. O’Neale made four 3-pointers and Prince added three.

“I think our guys really did a great job of sharing the ball and making the extra pass,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “And at the end of the day, shooting open shots is better than contested ones.”

O’Neale, a 6-foot-6 forward, made 9 of 11 from the floor, including 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point stripe.

“We just did a good job of focusing on the rim and knocking down shots, especially Royce O’Neale,” said Prince, a 6-7 senior.

Baylor (7-1) recorded its second road win over an SEC opponent, including a victory at South Carolina two weeks ago.

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings had a simple explanation for Baylor’s success beyond the 3-point stripe.

“Mostly dribble penetration, breaking us down off the dribble and kicking it so we’ve got some lessons to learn about what it takes to be a good college perimeter defender,” Stallings said. “It’s hard to guard guys in college when they’re skilled and fast, let alone if they’re big and fast. We were at a size disadvantage and a quickness disadvantage at a few positions tonight.”


It was Baylor’s first win over Vanderbilt (5-2) since 1949, but the first meeting between the schools since 1985.

Baylor has the Big 12’s best record in conference challenge games at 5-1.

Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones made two free throws to narrow the deficit to 65-63 with 15 seconds left.

Baylor’s Lester Medford hit 1 of 2 free throws to increase the Bears’ lead to 66-63 with 14.4 seconds left.

Vanderbilt’s Riley LaChance missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1 second left as the ball bounced off the glass.

James Siakam’s layup narrowed Baylor’s lead to 61-59 with 1:41 left, but he couldn’t convert the three-point play after missing a foul shot.

“Every time I go in I try to feed off (the crowd’s) energy and try to encourage my teammates,” said Siakam, who scored 12 points. “I think the bench was incredible.”

Jones, who entered the game as the Southeastern Conference’s fourth-leading scorer, led Vanderbilt with 21 points. Luke Kornet, a 7-foot sophomore forward, added 13.

Vanderbilt made a 15-8 run in the second half to narrow Baylor’s lead to 51-50.

A put-back by Siakam gave Vanderbilt its first lead, 54-53, since early in the game, prompting Baylor coach Scott Drew to call a timeout with 6:10 left.

Prince hit two free throws to put Baylor back on top, 55-54, with 5:22 left.

Vanderbilt cut the deficit to 48-46 with 9:33 left, but Al Freeman hit a 3-pointer to put Baylor up by five.

Baylor broke a 12-all tie with an 8-0 run to take control in the first half, and the Bears stretched their advantage to 34-25 by halftime.

Prince led the way in the early going with 13 points in the first half and O’Neale added 12.

Baylor hit 6 of its first 12 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

Baylor: The Bears entered the game with the nation’s No. 7 scoring defense (51.1 ppg).

Vanderbilt: Former Vanderbilt standout Perry Wallace, who became the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference in 1967, was honored at halftime. Andrew Maraniss wrote a book about him recently entitled, “Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South.”

Vanderbilt’s 3-point shooters struggled through an off night, making just 3 of 17 for a 17.6 percent clip. Riley LaChance was 0 for 6, including a last-second shot that could have sent the game into overtime.

Vanderbilt did a good job getting to the foul line, going 18 of 23 compared with Baylor’s 8 of 14. Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones, a 6-10 center, was 9 of 9. He also led all rebounders with nine.

Baylor hosts Texas A&M (5-1) on Tuesday for its first game against the Aggies since the 2011-12 season. Baylor has won the last five games in the series.

Vanderbilt hosts Purdue (6-1) on Dec. 13. Commodores coach Kevin Stallings played at Purdue from 1980-82. The Boilermakers went to the NCAA Final Four in 1980 and the NIT Final Four in 1981 and 1982. His first coaching job was at Purdue as an assistant from 1983-88 when the Boilermakers made the NCAA tournament each season.