Jones, Commodores coast past Tigers, 86-57


AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Vanderbilt opened the second half with a flurry of 3-pointers to help turn a comfortable lead into a Southeastern Conference road rout.

Damian Jones helped stake Vanderbilt to a double-digit halftime lead and finished with 17 points and nine rebounds in the Commodores’ 86-57 romp over Auburn on Saturday.

Vanderbilt (15-10, 7-5 SEC) rapidly grew a healthy 13-point halftime lead into a 20-point margin with three straight 3-pointers to open the second half, including two by Wade Baldwin IV.

“We came out and made those 3s right there in a row and that was a big lift for us and probably is what helped sort of separate us to where we got the game really in our favor,” Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said.

The lead ballooned to 39 before he emptied his bench.

Matthew Fisher-Davis added 16 points for Vandy, which turned the game into a blowout with a scorching second half.

Jones, who had 15 points by halftime, made 8 of 12 shots and only played seven minutes in the second half. Jones had six offensive rebounds after being held to nine points in Vandy’s last road game at Mississippi.

“He got going right at the beginning,” Stallings said. “I don’t think that he’s been very happy with his last couple of road performances and he wanted to play better on the road tonight, and he did.”

Fisher-Davis made four 3-pointers while Baldwin had nine points and seven assists. Nolan Cressler scored 11 points and made 5 of 6 shots.

The short-handed Tigers (9-15, 3-9) lost their seventh straight game. Leading scorer Kareem Canty, who had been suspended indefinitely, announced Thursday night that he was leaving school to turn pro.

Without him, the 250-pound Cinmeon Bowers started as the point guard. Bowers had 12 points, 15 rebounds and five assists and was involved in all but eight of Auburn’s baskets. Bryce Brown and TJ Lang each had 14 points for the Tigers.

“I told our guys to try not to be discouraged, that there’s a lot of opportunity out there,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We’ve got a couple of guys that are taking advantage of the opportunity and a couple of guys that haven’t yet.”

Vanderbilt outrebounded Auburn 47-38 and took good care of the ball. The Commodores dished out 21 assists and had only six turnovers.

Luke Kornet, who had Vandy’s second triple double in the initial meeting of the season, had five points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. The Commodores won both games handily.

Jones made 7 of 8 shots for 15 points in the opening half. He and Fisher-Davis combined for 21 of Vandy’s first 28 points.

Auburn forward Tyler Harris’s struggles continued while dealing with back problems. He followed an 0-for-10 shooting night against Tennessee by missing all six first-half attempts. He was 1-of-8 shooting for four points.

Vandy coach Kevin Stallings used the wide margin to get plenty of reserves into the game. Nine players came off the bench to play at least two minutes.

Vanderbilt: Improved to 2-7 in away games and 2-4 on the road against SEC teams. Shot 49 percent. Auburn: Shot 23.5 percent in the first half and 29 percent overall.

Vanderbilt: at Mississippi State on Tuesday night. Auburn: at Georgia on Wednesday night.