Vanderbilt’s big three showed what they can do when all three are on the court.
Jeffery Taylor scored a career-high 30 points, John Jenkins had 22 and Festus Ezeli added 15 in his season debut as Vanderbilt held off Davidson for an 87-83 road victory on Wednesday night.
The Commodores (6-3) welcomed back Ezeli, who came off the bench and played 21 minutes. The 6-foot-11 center, who had been sidelined because of sprained ligaments in his knee, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots before he fouled out with 22 seconds left.
Vanderbilt led by many as 18 with 7:59 remaining but behind De’Mon Brooks’ 24 points, Davidson (6-2) charged back. Jake Cohen made two free throws with nine seconds to go cut the lead to 86-83.
Brad Tinsley all but sealed the victory when he hit one of two free throws at the other end and Nick Cochran’s desperation 3-pointer missed the mark as time expired.
Holding onto a second-half lead has been an issue for the Commodores as they blew a 10-point lead to Xavier and a nine-point advantage at Louisville. They did, however, avoid losing three straight non-conference games for the first time since 1988.
Davidson raced out to an early eight-point lead but Jenkins and Taylor scored the next eight points. The duo combined for 27 points by halftime.
Ezeli’s two free throws – he was 7-of-10 from the line – put Vanderbilt up for good at the 7:57 mark in the first half.
Taylor had 14 points at the break and was 12-of-17 from the field with three 3-pointers.
The Commodores take a week off for finals before hosting Indiana State on Dec. 17 for the beginning of a three-game homestand.