Brad Tinsley made his point – and history -- Friday night.
The Vanderbilt guard rewrote the history books as he scored 11 points, dished out 10 assists and hauled down 10 rebounds for the first triple-double in school history.
That’s right, in 110 years of basketball at Vanderbilt, Tinsley became the first Commodore to achieve such a feat when he did so in an 88-47 season-opening victory in front of an announced crowd of 13,481 at Memorial Gym.
“Brad’s performance was maybe as good as we have ever had here,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “I gave him the game ball (Friday) night and it is the first time in 18 years I have ever given a player a game ball. That was a heck of a performance and I have seen some great ones.”
Tinsley, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior, will be transitioning back to the point guard position this season after holding down the shooting spot the last two years behind Jermaine Beal.
It was obvious the Oregon City, Ore. native was comfortable from the start as he set up alley-oops, hit pull-up jumpers and grabbed defensive rebounds and immediately pushed the fastbreak offense with long heaves down the court. He ended up setting career-highs in assists and rebounds. He committed just two turnovers.
At halftime, he already had 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He quickly reached the rebound plateau and recorded his ninth assist with more than eight minutes remaining.
Stallings and his coaching staff knew he was close and as the team left a media timeout with 7:10 remaining, the Vanderbilt coach just had request to his other four guys on the floor.
“I said, ‘He only needs one assist. Just somebody make a bucket please,’” Stallings said.
It took a few more minutes, but finally, at the 4:31 mark, Tinsley dished a pass to Rod Odom, who buried a 3-pointer. Stallings quickly called a timeout and the Vanderbilt bench erupted as they smothered Tinsley at halfcourt.
“I was really surprised because there have been a lot of great players come through here,” Tinsley said. “Like I told my teammates in the locker room, none of this is possible without them or the coaching staff. A triple-double is by no means an individual thing.”
Yes, someone has to score and Jeffery Taylor led the way with a career-high 27 points on 11-of-12 shooting. Many of his baskets came via the slam dunk, including three after passes from Tinsley.
“He has a great sense of knowing when to pass the ball and he puts people in good situations,” Taylor said of Tinsley. “He puts people in a good position to finish and to get a good outcome on a shot.”
Festus Ezeli also set a career-high with 14 points and John Jenkins added 10. Vanderbilt shot 66.7 percent (18-of-27) in the first half – its best shooting percentage in an opening half since Dec. 10, 2008 against Alabama A&M.
The Commodores made their first six shots and 10 of 12 to begin the game as they grabbed a 24-11 lead with 11:47 left in the first half.
Al’Lonzo Coleman scored 10 of his 17 points in the first half as Presbyterian twice cut the margin to 10. Vanderbilt, however, responded with a 10-0 run over the last 3:18 and took a 42-22 halftime lead.
In the second half, it became a matter of when Tinsley would accomplish the feat. Stallings had his assistants update him on the rebound and assist totals and a team manager made frequent trips to the scorers’ area for the latest.
Finally an assist – not a point – locked up history.
• Presbyterian guard and Hendersonville product Josh Johnson scored 11 points. The junior was coming off a 22-point performance against Newberry last week in an exhibition victory.
The Vanderbilt women’s basketball team will open its season at 2 p.m. Sunday with a home game against Howard.
The Commodores won both of their exhibition games by an average of 25 points. Freshman Christina Foggie led the team in scoring in both games, including 27 points against Union on Tuesday. She was 7-of-11 from 3-point range.