Vandy Falls at No. 2 Auburn

Scotty Pippen Jr. scores 29 in road setback

AUBURN, Ala. — Vanderbilt couldn’t contain Jabari Smith as hot-shooting and second-ranked Auburn pulled away from the Commodores for a 94-80 victory Wednesday in a packed Auburn Arena.

The Commodores led for all but 90 seconds in the first half but couldn’t keep pace in the second half. Smith finished with 31 points and made seven 3-pointers as the Tigers—who shot 70.8 percent in the second half—won their 16th consecutive home game.

Scotty Pippen Jr. led Vandy (13-12, 5-8 SEC) with 29 points. He also dished out six assists, collected five rebounds and made five steals. Jordan Wright added 15.

Vanderbilt returns home at 5 p.m. Saturday to host Texas A&M (16-10, 5-8).

Vandy couldn’t have gotten off to a better start Wednesday, making three of its first four shots and sinking four free throws to stake out an 11-0 advantage. When the Tigers finally hit a shot at the 17:05 mark, Pippen answered on the other end with a triple from the left corner to make it 14-3.

Auburn (24-2, 12-1) soon countered with an 11-0 run of its own before Jamaine Mann’sthree-point play put Vandy back up 17-16. Pippen followed that up with a one-handed jam that turned into a three-point play, making it 20-16.

Liam Robbins and Trey Thomas, respectively, buried back-to-back triples to put the visitors up 26-18. Quentin Millora-Brown quieted the crowd with a short jump-hook in the lane to make it 33-27 at the 5:45 mark.

Auburn patiently and methodically came back and finally took its first lead with a pair of free throws with 45 seconds to go in the half. Vanderbilt made just one field goal over the final 4:20 and went into the locker room down 42-38 despite an otherwise impressive first 20 minutes.

The Commodores shot 52 percent from the floor and made 10 of 12 free throws in the first half.

Smith began the second half by hitting three 3-pointers in the first 4:08 to help the Tigers race out to a 53-46 lead. But Vandy refused to go away and scrambled to 60-56 on Mann’s three-point play with 12:28 on the clock.

The Tigers upped the lead to 10 at 68-58 on a pair of free throws with a little less than 11 minutes to play. Walker Kessler’s steal and layup on the next possession made it a 70-58 contest.

Vandy couldn’t find a comeback left in the tank from there.

Kessler had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks for Auburn.

  • Robbins made his first start of the season.
  • Vandy senior guard Rodney Chatman did not play due to injury.
  • With 29 points Wednesday, Pippen Jr. (1,324) passed Barry Booker (1,310; 27th) for 27th, Damian Jones (1,313; 26th) and Frank Seckar (1,317; 25th) on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list. Terry Compton (1,326) is 24th.
  • Pippen now has 417 career made free throws, the seventh-most in Vanderbilt history. Clyde Lee has the sixth-most with 425.
  • Wright has now started 39 straight games for Vanderbilt.
  • Thomas has now played in 50 straight games for the Commodores.
  • Vanderbilt is now 2-10 this season when trailing at halftime, 8-1 when scoring at least 75 points and 12-5 when shooting at least 40 percent from the field.
  • The Commodores are now 89-56 all-time against Auburn and 37-32 as the visiting team.
  • Vanderbilt is now on a five-game losing streak against Auburn having last won 80-61 in 2017. The Dores were last victorious in Auburn on Feb. 13, 2016.
  • Vanderbilt is now 17-71 against opponents ranked in the top five with the last victory coming March 11, 2012 against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament championship.
  • Attendance on Wednesday was announced as 9,121.