Hard-Fought Defeat at No. 19 Tennessee

Scotty Pippen Jr. scores 23 points in setback

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 19 Tennessee pulled away from Vanderbilt down the stretch and hung on for a 73-64 win at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday.

The Commodores had made it a two-point game with a little more than five minutes to go, but Tennessee scored eight straight to go up 69-59 with just three minutes to play. Vandy (13-11, 5-7 SEC) couldn’t find another comeback left in the tank.

Scotty Pippen Jr., had 23 points and six assists to lead the Commodores while Myles Stute finished with 17. Rodney Chatman chipped in 11.

Vanderbilt will remain on the road next week to face No. 1 Auburn (23-2, 11-1) at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Vanderbilt fell behind 10-5 early Saturday before a Stute 3 from the top of the key broke a field goal drought of 2:13. But Zakai Zeigler hit a 3 from the right wing and then hit two free throws to put the Volunteers ahead 17-8.

Trey Thomas provided a spark at the 11:25 mark with a 3-pointer coming off a curl on the left wing, cutting the deficit to 20-14.

Chatman’s left-side 3-pointer got Vandy within six at 28-22, and then a Pippen steal and layup made it 28-24 with 7:22 to go in the half. 

Tennessee responded with a 9-0 run to build a 37-24 advantage. Vanderbilt went almost five minutes without a made field goal and, even after a Stute 3 from the right corner, Josiah-Jordan James answered with a three-ball on the other end to make it a 40-28 score in favor of the home team.

The Volunteers had a 44-32 lead at the break, shooting 46.4 percent from the floor and collecting eight offensive rebounds. They also scored 13 second-chance points.

Vanderbilt found itself down by 16 less than three minutes into the second half, thanks to a Ziegler triple from the top of the key. An 11-0 run by the visitors, however, made it a 50-45 game two minutes later as Vandy got two 3s from Stute and one from Jordan Wright. 

Pippen’s shot-clock beating bank shot brought the Commodores to 52-51 with 11:34 on the clock—but a scoreless stretch of 4 1/2 minutes allowed Tennessee to build their advantage back up to 58-51.

Another Pippen jumper just before the 5-minute mark allowed Vandy to claw to within 61-59, and that set up the final and decisive few minutes.

Zeigler led Tennessee (18-6, 9-3) with 16 points—he was one of four Volunteers in double figures.

• With 23 points Saturday, Pippen Jr. (1,295) passed Will Perdue (1,281) for 28th on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list. Barry Booker (1,310) is 27th.

• Wright has now started 38 straight games for Vanderbilt.

• Thomas has now played in 49 straight games for the Commodores.

• Vanderbilt is now 2-9 this season when trailing at halftime and 12-4 when shooting at least 40 percent from the field.

• The Commodores are now 75-128 all-time against Tennessee and have dropped 10 in a row in the series.

• Vandy last beat Tennessee on Feb. 22, 2017.

• Attendance on Saturday was announced as 20,019.