Vanderbilt steamrolls Missouri, 76-53


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kevin Stallings reminded his Vanderbilt Commodores before tip-off how much they need to both start and finish games better.

They listened very well.

Damian Jones scored 16 points and led five Commodores in double figures as Vanderbilt routed struggling Missouri 76-53 Saturday afternoon.

The Commodores (15-12, 5-9 Southeastern Conference) now have won two of their last three and improved to 4-2 in February. They scored the first seven points of the game and never trailed. The Commodores hit a season-high 10 3-pointers in posting their biggest margin of victory in a SEC win since winning 73-31 at Mississippi State on Feb. 23, 2013.

“I just liked how we were methodical and pretty workmanlike in what we tried to do,” Stallings said.

Wade Baldwin IV scored 13 points for Vanderbilt. Matthew Fisher-Davis, Riley LaChance and Luke Kornet each added 11.

Missouri (7-20, 1-13) lost its 13th straight for the longest skid in school history. Montaque Gill-Caesar led the Tigers with 11 points while Johnathan Williams II, their leading scorer averaging 12.6 points per game, was held to six points.

“Nobody’s more disappointed than me,” first-year coach Kim Anderson said. “But nobody’s more excited than me to go practice and try to work with these guys. You know it’s hard, it’s hard when you lose 13 in a row.”

Missouri started shooting poorly, missing six of its first seven shots. Vanderbilt had no such issues and quickly opened up a 14-4 lead and pushed that to as much as 24-10 on a jumper by Fisher-Davis with 8:56 left in the half. The Tigers strung together six straight points to trim that lead under double digits. Gill-Caesar hit a 3-pointer, then Keanu Post scored on a layup with eight seconds left to pull Missouri within 35-29.

But Josh Henderson beat the buzzer, tipping in a missed shot by Shelton Mitchell giving Vanderbilt a 37-29 halftime lead.

“We keep getting punched in the mouth first, and it’s affecting us,” Tigers guard Keith Shamburger said. “We got to start off better as a group simple as it gets. We got to start off hungry. Seven-20, and we’re playing like we’re 13-1 in conference. So we got to turn that around and just play harder.”

Jones opened the second half scoring six points within the first four minutes for Vanderbilt, and the rout was on as the Commodores pushed their lead to as much as 27 with 2:42 left on a 3-pointer by Baldwin. That was the Commodores’ 10th 3-pointer as they hit 41.7 percent for the game.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores dominated the boards 46-26. LaChance grabbed a career-best nine rebounds, while James Siakam had 13. … The Commodores got back Mitchell who missed the past four games because of concussion symptoms. He has started 11 games this season, but he entered the game at 12:18 of the first half. Mitchell had only two points but handed out four assists. … Vanderbilt had hit nine 3-pointers in five different games this season.

Missouri: The Tigers now have topped the 12-game skids in each of the 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons. … The Tigers came in ranked sixth in the SEC making an average of 6.3 3-pointers per game. They hit only 3 of 11 (27.3 percent). … Missouri was outrebounded 27-9 in the second half.

DOUBLING DAMIAN: The Tigers double-teamed Jones in the first half and held the preseason first-team All-SEC center to just two points and two rebounds. Jones had four of his blocks in the first 20 minutes. But Stallings said they noticed in the opening seconds of the second half that Missouri was not double-teaming him anymore when Jones missed a jump hook. That’s when Vanderbilt went to Jones over and over again as he scored 14 points and grabbed five in the half.

“When he plays like that, we’re pretty tough to beat,” LaChance said.

Vanderbilt: Visit Tennessee on Thursday night. Missouri: Host Florida on Tuesday night.