After losing three straight to open the conference season, the Vanderbilt Commodores have bounced back with consecutive victories. They defeated Auburn 73-61 Wednesday night at Memorial Gym, improving their SEC record to 2-3 (8-9 overall). With an upcoming road trip that takes them to Missouri and Tennessee, there was no way Vanderbilt wanted to lose this one.
Floor leader and point guard Kedren Johnson led the way with 15 points and four assists. The Commodores finally got a boost from their bench, mainly because it now has former starters Kyle Fuller and Kevin Bright coming off it. Fuller scored 14 and Bright 12, as reserves scored 30 points, the best bench scoring Vanderbilt’s enjoyed this season.
They limited Auburn to only nine of 24 from three-point range, although Vanderbilt shot the same percentage. But they won the game on something that hasn’t been a strength this season, free throw shooting. Vanderbilt made 24 of 30 from the line, many of them in the second half as Auburn was frantically fouling to get the ball back. Auburn shot even better, but had fewer tries. They were eight of nine. Vandy also outrebounded Auburn 37-29, led once by Johnson.
A crowd of a little under 10,000 (9,961) were in attendance onf a very chilly nght as they saw the Commodores grab a 34-27 first half lead, which they developed with a seven-point scoring burst near the end of the first half. They ended any suspense by controlling the tempo and pace through the second half, though Auburn did have one rally. They managed to close the gap to seven, but then Fuller and Bright hit back-to-back three pointers, making it 50-37 and ending any chances Auburn .
Their next foe Missouri has been in the top 10 much of the season. That’s followed by the ever desperate Tennessee Volunteers, who are more than anxious to ensure that the Commodores don’t continue building momentum through the league season. Saturday’s game with Missouri will air on ESPNU and begins at 4 p.m.
Photo By: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey