Vanderbilt — minus two starters — starts fast, wins big

Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 8:07pm

The injury bug just won’t leave Vanderbilt alone.

So far for the Commodores, when a man — or two — goes down, another steps right in and fills the void nicely.

Such was the case on Sunday, when No. 24 Vanderbilt blew by visiting Davidson 80-52 at Memorial Gymnasium. The Commodores were without starters John Jenkins and Andre Walker but it didn’t seem to matter. Four players scored in double figures and they held Davidson to a season-low 29.3 percent shooting from the field.

“I was very surprised at that,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “We just caught them on an off-day. ... They are a much better team than they showed [Sunday]. I am proud of my team. Nobody has gotten away from them all season long, and I was the most shocked guy in the gym when the first half concluded. Give a lot of credit to my team. We were shorthanded.”

Jenkins, VU's leading scorer at 17.8 points per game, suffered a concussion during practice on Saturday. The day before, Walker sprained his ankle. The junior forward had just gotten back into the starting lineup against Marquette on Wednesday after missing four games due to mononucleosis.

Vanderbilt (11-2) did get the return of Lance Goulbourne. The junior forward started after he had missed the last two games due to an NCAA infraction.

Goulbourne, usually the team’s sixth man off the bench, started and finished with seven points, five rebounds and three blocks. Freshman forward Rod Odom also started and logged a career-high 26 minutes.

The Commodores’ thin bench was big, as Steve Tchiengang scored 14 points, Joe Duffy grabbed five rebounds and Jordan Smart and Kyle Fuller each had a career-high 21 minutes.

“It is pretty frustrating just knowing that we haven’t had a full team in a while,” guard Brad Tinsley said. “But we know whenever a guy goes down, especially two of our key guys, everyone just has to step up even more and I thought everyone did that.”

The Commodores never trailed and led by as many as 31 points in the first half. Davidson (7-6) went nearly seven minutes without a basket, and the Commodores took advantage. They went on a 15-0 run and took a 23-6 lead with 11:04 left in the first half.

“I don’t think we responded to the adversity that we faced very well,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “They blocked shots. We missed shots. They made shots. They got burnouts. We normally respond better than that. ... This was very uncharacteristic of us but I think that Vanderbilt had a lot to do with that.”

Tinsley and Jeffery Taylor accounted for most of the offensive damage.

Taylor finished with 22 points and supassed 1,000 for his career on a slam dunk early in the second half. The junior forward is the 41st player in school history to reach the milestone.

“It is an accomplishment. It is nothing I will think about too much after this,” he said. “It is something to think about [Sunday] night but after this it is just business as usual.”

Tinsley scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his second career double-double. He also added four assists and had just one turnover. Over the last four games, Tinsley has 21 assists and just two turnovers.

“He was quietly efficient,” McKillop said. “With a team loaded with that kind of athletic talent, maybe he is that perfect point guard for them because he is so quietly efficient. Effective as can be.”

Center Festus Ezeli also finished in double digits with 12 points but he was just 3-of-10 from the field. He was double-teamed when he touched the ball but Stallings didn’t believe that was the reason for his shooting woes. He said he learned after the first half that Ezeli’s knee was bothering him.

The discomfort didn’t sound serious and Ezeli will have plenty of time to rest as Vanderbilt doesn’t play again until Saturday.

But it is a big game as the Commodores open Southeastern Conference play at South Carolina. Stallings said Jenkins should be able to play but wasn’t so sure about Walker, saying his injury could keep him out longer.

“We just have to do the best we can with the best we have,” Stallings said. “We have been bitten by the injury bug a little bit. We need to get that bug away from us.”

Briefly

• Taylor wasn’t the only Swedish player on the court Sunday.

Davidson’s Chris Czerapowicz, a native of Goteborg, Sweden, finished with a team-high 16 points, with four 3-pointers and seven rebounds.

Taylor, who was born in Norrkoping, Sweden, but went to high school in New Mexico, did not play against Czerapowicz but knew of him. Late in the game, the two were chatting it up during a free-throw attempt.

“I have seen him play a lot and I knew coming into the game he was a really good player,” Taylor said. “I think he really showed everybody the kind of player he is. Although he scored a lot on us, I am glad he played well and I hope he keeps playing well in the future.”

Stallings agreed and he even came into the players’ press conference Sunday to let Taylor know what he thought.

“Glad to know there is at least one player from Sweden that can shoot,” Stallings joked.

Vanderbilt has won four straight and nine of its last 10.

Brendan McKillop and Ben Allison are the only Davidson players left from the Wildcats’ Elite Eight run during the 2007-08 season. Davidson entered the NCAA Tournament as a 10th seed and knocked off Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin.

The Wildcats’ dream season ended in a regional final with a 59-57 loss to eventual national champion Kansas. Davidson rode the coattails of guard Stephen Curry, who averaged 32 points during the tournament. Curry is in his second year with the Golden State Warriors.

1 Comment on this post:

By: CrimesDown on 1/2/11 at 9:24

“I don’t think we responded to the adversity that we faced very well,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “They blocked shots. We missed shots. They made shots. They got burnouts. We normally respond better than that. ... This was very uncharacteristic of us but I think that Vanderbilt had a lot to do with that.”

What are "burnouts"? All I can think is that the writer means "rebounds". Maybe I'm wrong, I give up.