Vanderbilt forward Lance Goulbourne wrestled a loose rebound away from an Indiana State defender under the rim, converted a layup and got fouled. After completing the three-point play, the Commodores had a 53-45 lead with 6:31 left and appeared to be opening up a tight game.
That's when Vanderbilt went cold.
Indiana State finished with a 16-2 run and defeated the 25th-ranked Commodores 61-55, their second loss to a mid-major program this year.
"The story of the game is they got the tempo where they wanted it and we didn't defend the 3-point line," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said.
Indiana State shot 47.6 percent on 3-pointers while Vanderbilt only converted 27.3 percent. The Commodores missed six of their last seven.
But Stallings shrugged off a suggestion that his team can't convert in the clutch.
"I wouldn't say we struggle at the end of games. We've won a bunch of games at the end, but we went in a scoring drought there at the end of this game and we just couldn't make baskets," Stallings said. "I didn't think we had our edge to us today. I could kind of sense it. (Indiana State) played well though."
Trailing 55-53 with 2:47 left in the game, Vanderbilt junior guard John Jenkins missed a 3-pointer. Then, after a defensive stop, senior center Festus Ezeli traveled with 1:37 left.
Those missed opportunities summed up the game for the Commodores.
"I think it's more of a mentality than anything. We have the talent and the experience to (win)," Vanderbilt senior guard Brad Tinsley said.
Senior forward Jeffery Taylor led the Commodores with 21 points and six rebounds. Taylor capped a personal 10-0 run early in the second half with a thunderous fast break dunk that helped Vanderbilt erase a 38-29 ISU lead. But he only added two points — a layup with 52 seconds left — in the last 15:54 of the game.
"I just think there were some stretched where we couldn't buy a basket. It was just untimely for us to go cold in those stretches. I can't really put my finger on it," Taylor said.
Ezeli, who played in his second game since coming off a six-game suspension and knee injury, had four points, four rebounds and four turnovers. Goulbourne scored four points and grabbed six rebounds in his first game since getting a concussion in practice.
The game was Vanderbilt's first game after a 10-day break for final exams. Stallings said the team's performance mirrored their preparation.
"We had no rhythm to our offense, but we had no rhythm during this week of practice. … This was very much a reflection of the week that we just had practice-wise," Stallings said.
"It was not a very good performance. It was not a very good week of practice. It was not a very good week overall."