Vanderbilt Commodores

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin gestures from the bench during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Columbia, S.C.  (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
(AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

No. 22 South Carolina remains unbeaten with win over Vandy

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Sindarius Thornwell had 19 points and eight rebounds and No. 22 South Carolina remained undefeated with a 69-65 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

South Carolina (15-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) passed its first tough test of the season, taking its first lead on PJ Dozier’s floater with 10:54 left. Dozier then hit a reverse layup as the rare near sellout crowd at Colonial Life Center roared.

Dozier scored seven of his nine points over the next 5 minutes and the Gamecocks held off Vanderbilt (8-7, 0-3) with good defense. The Commodores missed 19 of their last 22 shots.

South Carolina and SMU are the only unbeaten teams left in Division I. South Carolina has only reached 15 wins in three of its past 10 seasons.

Riley Lachance and Wade Baldwin IV each had 13 points for Vanderbilt.

The Commodores built an 8-0 lead less than 2 minutes in as Luke Kornet hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Damien Jones had a putback.

The deficit was the largest South Carolina had faced all season. The Gamecocks also trailed for 19:45 of the first half, which was more time than they had been behind in any game.

But South Carolina kept it close. Five times the Gamecocks were down one and failed to take the lead.

Once South Carolina took over, though, Vanderbilt couldn’t respond. Nolan Cressler fouled out with 7:55 left and Jones got his fifth foul with 6:34 to go. Baldwin also fouled out at the end as the Commodores sent South Carolina to the line.

Free throws kept Vanderbilt in it. The Commodores made 11 foul shots during the final 14 minutes.

TIP-INS

Vanderbilt: Kornet returned to the starting lineup for the Commodores for the first time since injuring his knee in practice Dec. 8. He scored eight points. … Vanderbilt was picked to finish second in the SEC, but has started 0-3 in the league for the first time since 2013.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks’ 15-0 start is their best since the 1933-34 season. That team also shares South Carolina’s longest winning streak of 17 games with the 1969-70 team that went undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Conference before losing in the tournament. … This is only the third time in 25 SEC seasons the Gamecocks have started with two league wins.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt hosts Auburn on Tuesday night.

South Carolina travels to Alabama on Wednesday night.

Second-half resurgence pushes Dayton past No. 21 Vanderbilt

Kendall Pollard, Damian Jones
Associated Press
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A renewed commitment to working the ball around for quality shots led to Dayton erasing an eight-point halftime deficit (they trailed by as much as 16 in the first half) to beat No. 21 Vanderbilt in Nashville, winning by the final score of 72-67.

Archie Miller’s Flyers shot 59.3 percent from the field in the second half, with improved shot selection being a key factor. After settling for perimeter shots against a team without its leading shot blocker in Luke Kornet in the first half, attempting ten three-pointers (making three), Dayton attempted just five three-pointers in the second half.

Instead the ball went inside on a more regular basis, with Dayton scoring 24 of their 40 paint points in the game’s final 20 minutes. Kendall Pollard, who hit a huge three-pointer in the game’s final minute, scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and redshirt freshman big man Steve McElvene (ten points, nine rebounds) chipped in with six points and five rebounds.

As a team Dayton outscored Vanderbilt 40-22 in the paint while also controlling the rebounding stats (38.5 percent offensive reb. percentage, 79.8 percent defensive reb. percentage), which led to their holding a 17-2 edge in second chance points.

While Damian Jones accounted for 18 points and eight rebounds, Vanderbilt didn’t get much production from their other front court players on a night when they needed them to step up. Dayton took advantage, and they managed to pick up a result that will look good on their résumé as the season wears on. Also of note is the fact that Dayton is now 12-3 in their last 15 games against SEC opponents.

Dayton has depth, experience and talent, attributes taken into consideration by voters when they were picked to win the Atlantic 10 in the league’s preseason media poll. Yet with an eye towards the future the play of McElvene may be the biggest takeaway for the Flyers. After accounting for 14 points, ten rebounds and four blocks in a win over North Florida the redshirt freshman followed it up with another solid outing, doing so against a big man projected to be a first round pick in June’s NBA Draft.

Dayton has players such as Pollard, point guard Scoochie Smith and forward Charles Cooke to lean on for key contributions. But if McElvene can continue to develop, at his size (6-foot-11) he gives Dayton a piece they’ve lacked in recent years. And with the suspended Dyshawn Pierre expected back at the end of the semester, an already deep Dayton squad will get deeper ahead of conference play.

Knee injury sidelines Vanderbilt’s Luke Kornet

Luke Kornet, Jaleel Hogan
Associated Press
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Just before their game against Dayton Wednesday night, the Vanderbilt basketball program announced that they’ll be without one of their starting big men for the next four to six weeks.

Junior Luke Kornet has been ruled out after he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee in practice earlier this week. With the announced timetable the Commodores will have begun SEC play when Kornet is able to return to the lineup.

Alongside fellow junior Damian Jones, Kornet is a big man capable of stepping away from the basket in order to help with the Commodores’ spacing on the offensive end. Kornet’s currently third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding with averages of 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The 7-foot-1 Kornet currently leads Vanderbilt in blocked shots, averaging 2.8 per contest.

Without Kornet, Jeff Roberson and Josh Henderson stand to see their playing time increase, and freshman Semir Sehic (8.3 mpg) may also be able to earn more opportunities. Vanderbilt has depth inside, which will help them account for the loss of Kornet as the start of SEC play approaches.

Prince, Medford lead No. 25 Baylor past No. 16 Vanderbilt

Rico Gathers, Lester Medford
Associated Press
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Given the amount of interior talent on both teams, Sunday’s matchup between No. 16 Vanderbilt and No. 25 Baylor presented the 33 NBA scouts in attendance with a good opportunity to evaluate the likes of Vandy’s Damian Jones and Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. However it would be two Bears who spend a significant amount of time on the perimeter who had the greatest impact on the outcome, a 69-67 Baylor victory.

Versatile wing Taurean Prince scored 30 points to lead the way and Lester Medford added 11 of his 15 in the second half, three of which came on a critical three-pointer with 42 seconds remaining that produced the final margin.

Prince was one of the Big 12’s most improved players last season, and as a senior he’s expected by many to take another step forward for a team with Big 12 title aspirations. But leading into Sunday’s matchup his shooting percentages were lower than what he produced as a junior, shooting 37.3 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three through six games.

That wasn’t an issue against Vanderbilt, as Prince shot 10-for-19 from the field and 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.

The senior carried Baylor offensively during a critical second-half stretch, as he scored seven points during a 13-0 run that erased a 52-39 Vanderbilt lead. Up until that point the Commodores, even with Damian Jones having a quiet night, appeared poised to run away with the game. Kevin Stallings’ team doesn’t lack for scoring options, and with sophomore guards Wade Baldwin IV (19 points, four assists) and Matthew Fisher-Davis (11 points, five rebounds) serving as the catalysts Vanderbilt established what appeared to be a comfortable margin.

But Prince and Medford, who assisted on three of the baskets scored during the run, turned the game around. And over the final 8:13 those two combined to score 14 of Baylor’s final 17 points, with a Johnathan Motley free throw and a Gathers Sr. (ten points, 13 rebounds) dunk accounting for the other three.

Prince’s effort was obviously critical, but given the questions asked by some of Baylor’s point guard play Medford’s second half may be the most important development moving forward. Entering Sunday the senior had a solid assist-to-turnover ratio, with 5.7 assists and 2.3 turnovers per game, but he was shooting just under 43 percent from the field.

While he did struggle in the Bears’ loss at No. 15 Oregon in mid-November, Medford’s two best offensive outings of the season have come in Baylor’s best wins. There was Medford’s 13-point, nine-assist game in a blowout win over Stephen F. Austin in the season opener, and Sunday night against Vanderbilt he accounted for 15 points, five assists and just one turnover. Baylor has one of the nation’s best front courts, and their ability to both keep Jones (nine points, eight rebounds) and Luke Kornet (seven points, four rebounds) in check and rebound 46.5 percent of their team’s missed shots (Gathers Sr. and Prince had 12 of Baylor’s 20 offensive rebounds) serves as evidence in the affirmative.

But if Baylor is to compete with the likes of Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma atop the Big 12 their perimeter play will be key. Medford stepped forward to assist Prince Sunday night, and that will need to be the case on a consistent basis when conference play begins next month.

SUNDAY’S SNACKS: No. 25 Baylor comes back, No. 9 North Carolina rolls

Taurean Prince
Associated Press
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 25 Baylor 69, No. 16 Vanderbilt 67

Taurean Prince scored 30 points and Lester Medford added 15 and five assists as the Bears erased a 13-point second half deficit to beat the Commodores in Waco. Medford’s three with 42 seconds remaining gave Baylor the lead for good, and the Bears’ work on the offensive glass was notable as well.

Baylor racked up 20 offensive rebounds, with Rico Gathers Sr. responsible for eight, which worked out to an offensive rebounding percentage of 46.5 percent despite going up against the likes of Damian Jones and Luke Kornet. Wade Baldwin IV led Vandy with 19 points, and more about Baylor’s win can be read here.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Florida State 76, VCU 71: The Seminoles managed to hang on in Atlanta, with VCU’s Melvin Johnson nearly leading the Rams to a comeback win. Johnson scored a career-high 36 in the loss, with 23 of those points coming in the second half. Xavier Rathan-Mayes led the winners with 23 points while also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out three assists.

San Diego 53, San Diego State 48: In a game played outdoors at Petco Park the Toreros picked up the first big win of Lamont Smith’s tenure as head coach. USD wasn’t great offensively but their opponents were even worse in the first half, as SDSU shot 3-for-20 from the field and trailed 31-13 at the break. Steve Fisher’s team managed to pull to within one late in the second half, but the hole was too deep to crawl out of. Duda Sanadze led San Diego with 15 points and Olin Carter III added 12 (4-for-7 3PT).

STARRED

Devin Patterson, Omaha: Not only did Patterson score 41 points Sunday, but his three-pointer as time expired gave the Mavericks a 100-97 win at Montana State.

Melvin Johnson, VCU: Johnson shot 14-for-24 in scoring his career-high 36 points in the Rams’ five-point loss to Florida State in Atlanta.

Taurean Prince, Baylor: Waller-Prince scored 30 points on 10-for-19 shooting to lead the Bears to a two-point win over No. 16 Vanderbilt.

STRUGGLED

San Diego State (first half): Shooting 3-for-20 from the field is bad. What was also bad for San Diego State was the fact that they allowed San Diego to grab eight offensive rebounds on the other end. They were outworked and outplayed Sunday.

Damian Jones, Vanderbilt: Jones, who did grab eight rebounds in a two-point loss at No. 25 Baylor, shot just 2-for-7 from the field in scoring nine points.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 9 North Carolina rolled to a 98-65 win over Davidson, as they limited the Wildcats to 34.3 percent shooting from the field. Nate Britt matched his career-high with 17 points, leading five Tar Heels in double figures.
  • No. 17 Cincinnati scored 51 points in the first half of its 87-66 win over Morgan State. Shaq Thomas posted 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Gary Clark Jr. accounted for 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Bearcats.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Pittsburgh scored 50 points in both halves as they rolled to a 100-47 win over Central Arkansas. Damon Wilson scored 20 points, shooting 7-for-9 from the field, off the bench to lead the barrage.
  • Chris Mullin picked up his first head coaching win at Madison Square Garden as St. John’s held off St. Francis-Brooklyn 63-56. The win is also the 1,800th in the history of the program, making St. John’s the ninth Division I program to reach that number.
  • Hofstra capped the doubleheader at MSG with an 86-80 win over Appalachian State, as they scored 52 second-half points. Brian Bernardi scored 23 points to lead the way for the Pride.
  • James Madison moved to 8-3 on the season with a 107-84 win over Marshall. Shakir Brown scored 30 points and Ron Curry added 20 for the Dukes.
  • UMass-Lowell picked up its first-ever win over Boston College, beating the Eagles 68-66 in Chestnut Hill. The Eagles were shorthanded, as Eli Carter (ankle) and Dennis Clifford (stomach bug) both sat out.
  • Monmouth rebounded from its loss at Canisius Friday night with a comfortable 56-42 win at Niagara. The Hawks limited the Purple Eagles to 15 first-half points.
  • Two-time defending MAAC tournament champion Manhattan fell to 0-2 in league play, losing 75-70 to Marist at home. Khalid Hart scored 17 points and Brian Parker and Ryan Funk added 16 apiece for the winners.
  • Coastal Carolina moved to 1-1 in Big South play with a 63-58 win over Radford (als0 1-1). Jaylen Shaw and Marcus Freeman scored 12 apiece to lead a balanced offensive effort for Cliff Ellis’ Chanticleers.
  • Colorado State scored 52 first-half points and then went ice cold in the second half, with Colorado’s improved defense ultimately leading to the Buffaloes winning 88-77 in Fort Collins. Josh Scott, who struggled in each of the last two meetings in this series, scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Colorado.
  • Jaelan Sanford’s three-pointer as time expired gave Toledo a 71-69 win at Green Bay. Nathan Boothe led the Rockets with 27 points.
  • Southern Miss picked up its first win of the season, beating North Dakota State 74-62. Quinton Campbell scored 17 points to lead four Golden Eagles in double figures.
  • Saint Mary’s remained undefeated as they beat Big West favorite UC Irvine 70-60 in Moraga. Emmett Naar led five Gaels in double figures with 15 points while also dishing out five assists.
  • Bryce Alford scored 24 points and Isaac Hamilton 21 as UCLA beat Long Beach State 83-76. The visiting 49ers were playing their second game in as many days, as they beat New Mexico State Saturday.
  • Dejounte Murray scored 17 points, Matisse Thybulle 16 and Andrew Andrews 15 and ten rebounds as Washington took care of Cal-State Fullerton, 87-69.

Vanderbilt gets three-star 2016 forward Clevon Brown

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Vanderbilt scored an intriguing commitment out of Texas as three-star forward Clevon Brown committed to the Commodores. Texas was the other finalist for the 6-foot-8 stretch four, but he decided to go to the SEC and head coach Kevin Stallings.

A native of San Antonio, Brown is currently regarded as the No. 126 overall prospect in the Class of 2016. During the recruiting process, Brown took in both Vanderbilt and Texas. Brown burst on the national recruiting radar with a strong performance during the July live evaluation period in the Great American Shootout.

Brown is Vanderbilt’s second Class of 2016 pledge as he follows three-star Arkansas native and guard Payton Willis. Both Brown and Willis can step outside and shoot from the perimeter and fit what Vanderbilt likes to do on the offensive end of the floor.