Surging Commodores win 5th straight with 86-77 victory at Ole Miss

March 7, 2015


OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Wade Baldwin IV sprinted down the court just before halftime, spinning around a defender at half court before firing an awkward 25-foot shot at the rim.

It banked right off the glass and through the hoop.

It was that kind of night for the Commodores, who did little wrong in an 86-77 victory over Mississippi on Saturday night. Riley LaChance led Vanderbilt with 19 points and a career-high eight assists.

The Commodores (19-12, 9-9 Southeastern Conference) continued their late-season surge, winning a fifth straight game. They won this one mostly thanks to fantastic outside shooting — including a 56.5 percent mark (13 of 23) from 3-point range.

“We’re playing with confidence,” LaChance said. “Some of the things we weren’t doing well early, we’ve cleaned that up. We’ve definitely got some momentum going into the SEC tournament.”

Vanderbilt’s 13 3-pointers tied a season high. Five Commodores scored in double figures, including Baldwin, who added 15.

“We had 25 assists on 30 baskets so that speaks to how we really shared the ball tonight,” LaChance said. “It gave us open looks – guys being unselfish and looking around on the floor.

It was a costly loss for Ole Miss (20-11, 11-7), which dropped all the way from a potential No. 3 seed in next week’s SEC tournament to No. 6. The Rebels struggled on defense the entire night, allowing the Commodores constant open looks from 3-point range.

“I’m a big believer that you get what you deserve and we were a step slow,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “We just didn’t have any answers and the credit goes to them.”

M.J. Rhett led Ole Miss with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field while Jarvis Summers added 16. The Rebels have lost three of four games.

Stefan Moody scored 14 for Ole Miss, but shot just 3 of 15 of the field, including 1 of 7 from 3-point range.

It all added up to a brutal Senior Night for the Rebels. Ole Miss honored five seniors before the game — including Rhett, Summers, LaDarius White, Aaron Jones and Terence Smith — but that’s when the good times ended.

Vanderbilt jumped out to a 46-33 lead by halftime after shooting 9 of 15 from 3-point range.

The shooting display wasn’t totally unexpected. The Commodores came into the game leading the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (38.6 percent) and converted time and again on Saturday when left open from beyond the arc.

Matthew Fisher-Davis led Vanderbilt with 11 first-half points and finished with 14.

The second half wasn’t much different. LaChance drained his fifth 3-pointer of the night with a little more than 13 minutes remaining to give the Commodores a 69-52 that was never seriously threatened.

Vanderbilt shot 30 of 55 (54.5 percent) from the field. Now the Commodores look like a team nobody will want to face at next week’s SEC tournament.

“We feel like we’re capable of beating just about anyone and, of course, we can lose to anyone,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “We’ve played pretty well the last month or two so hopefully we can sustain that.”

Vanderbilt: The Commodores have shot 55 of 108 (51 percent) from 3-point range during their 5-game winning streak. … Stallings has 311 career wins at Vanderbilt. Only Florida’s Billy Donovan has more among active SEC coaches.

Ole Miss: Ole Miss has a 7-2 record on Senior Day under Kennedy. … The loss snapped a four-game winning streak against the Commodores.

Vanderbilt will be the No. 7 seed in next week’s SEC tournament and play No. 10 Tennessee on Thursday.

Ole Miss will be the No. 6 seed in next week’s SEC tournament and play the winner of South Carolina-Missouri on Thursday.