Kevin Stallings did not like what he saw from his team in the final 20 minutes Saturday of his team’s 84-71 victory over Tennessee State.
Similarly, TSU coach John Cooper would have looked away if he could have – and a lot sooner.
“They had so many layups, I was sick of watching it actually,” Cooper said.
Jeffery Taylor set a Memorial Gymnasium record as he made 10 of 11 field goals (90.9 percent) and paced the Commodores to their best single-game shooting performance – 67.9 percent – under Stallings. Brett Burrow set the previous mark of 90 percent (9-for-10) on Feb. 16, 1985 against Tennessee.
Taylor led all scorers with 20 points, which made him the first VU player since A.J. Ogilvy late last season with at least 20 in back-to-back games. He also had 21 in the Dec. 11 loss to Western Kentucky.
Vanderbilt (7-3) rode that offensive efficiency to an 18-point halftime lead and stretched its advantage to 24 with a little more than five minutes to go before a crowd of 12,429. The Tigers finished the contest on a 14-4 run.
TSU (3-9), like Vanderbilt, had four players in double figures. Jacquan Nobles and Josh Sain each had a team-leading 14 off the bench.
“They kept playing even after the game was out of hand, and I really didn’t feel like our guys did,” Stallings said. “So I wasn’t very pleased with how the second half was played by our team.”
The Commodores put the game out of reach their ability to get to the basket.
All but one of Taylor’s field goals came at the rim. He had six layups and three dunks.
Post players Ogilvy and Festus Ezeli each were 5-for-7 from the field and had a combined three dunks between them. Steve Tchiengang was 3-for-3.
“We were able to throw the ball inside and get baskets,” Stallings said. “The one thing is they tried to press us some, and I think for the most part it can be hard to press us.”
TSU’s defense did force 21 turnovers, which matched its third highest total of the season and was three more than VU’s season average.
When the Commodores held on to the ball, though, they knew what to do with it. Their 36 field goals came as a result of a season-high 21 assists, including seven by Jermaine Beal and five by Brad Tinsley. Seven different VU players had at least one helper.
“It was a lot of three-on-twos and two-on-ones,” Taylor said. “When my teammates gave me the opportunity, I just tried to finish and do what I do.”
What he does, according to Beal, is “Just jump up and dunk it.”
Oddly, though, a baseline jump shot by Taylor was Vanderbilt’s only basket from outside the lane in the second half.
The Commodores did make six 3-pointers, all in the first half. The last of those was by John Jenkins (12 points) with 2:07 to play before intermission. From there, 20 of thier final 21 baskets came from close range.
“Show mw a team that gives up 67 percent from the field and I’ll show you a team that loses,” Cooper said. “Their physicality affected us. They were just much, much more physical than we were – probably the most physical (team) we’ve played against thus far in their ability to get the ball inside and use their bodies on our guys.”