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December 30, 2009

Vanderbilt takes Manhattan, 86-48

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt used three significant scoring runs and a 52-38 effort on the boards to defeat the Manhattan Jaspers 86-48 on Wednesday night. The win marked the 198th for head coach Kevin Stallings as Vanderbilt's head coach, pushing him to second all-time behind Hall of Famer Roy Skinner.



The Commodores posted runs of 26-8, 17-2 and 22-3 during the contest, as the bigger and more athletic squad was just too much for the Jaspers to handle. Vanderbilt also used its talent advantage defensively to hold its opponent to under 37-percent from the field for the third straight game. Manhattan shot just 26-percent from the field in the loss.

"I thought we were really good in the second half," Stallings said after the game. "I thought our defense was better. We played with more intensity and more aggression. We obviously had physical advantages and were able to take advantage of those. It was nice to be able to get people some playing time. We were too big and physical inside and that set the tone for the game."

Vanderbilt established its size quickly in the game when center Festus Ezeli blocked a Darryl Crawford running jumper and got the rebound following a few put back attempts by the Jaspers Laurence Jolicoeur. The 6-foot-11 sophomore center quickly got the ball to senior Jermaine Beal's hands and the point guard drained a jumper from the elbow.

A few seconds later, Beal stole a pass from Manhattan's Antoine Pearson and found sophomore Brad Tinsley for a jumper from 10-feet out of his own. Commodore sophomore Andre Walker pulled down another Jolicoeur miss a few moments later and found All-SEC candidate Jeffery Taylor for an jumper just inside the three-point line to give the Commodores a 6-0 advantage and force Manhattan to take a 30-second timeout just two minutes into the game.

Vanderbilt continued the run following the stoppage of play, as Ezeli blocked another shot and answered the Jaspers first score by Brandon Adams, with a thunderous dunk. Tinsley followed a Beal block and rebound on the Jaspers next possesion with a running jumper inside the lane to extend the lead back out to eight. The Jaspers would to within four points at the 15 minute mark when junior Andrew Gabriel hit a jumper following the television timeout, but that would be the closest Manhattan would ever get to the Commodores. Vanderbilt began to drive inside, forcing the Jaspers to foul and the Commodores converted on three straight trips to the line to extend the lead back out to 16-6. Vanderbilt would follow with 10 more points in the next couple of minutes with another strong dunk from Ezeli, a layup by A.J. Ogilvy and two three-pointers from freshman John Jenkins.

Manhattan chipped away at the Commodores commanding lead around the seven mark with a series of jumpers and free throws by former Alabama guard Rico Pickett, as the Vanderbilt offense seemed to get out of sync. However, a Andre Walker volleyball like tip-in and Jeffery Taylor layup on back-to-back possessions seemed to stem the Jaspers momentum as Vanderbilt went into the break with a 38-22 lead.

"I think we relaxed a little bit and missed some shots and probably forced a couple. I just think we sort of got out of sync," Stallings said of the first half lull. "Fortunately, our defense never really left us and when it did, they would miss if they were open at times. We got out of sync. I thought we played the second half with a better energy level. I thought we started the game well and kind of got it under control and relaxed a little bit. I thought we picked it up in the second half."

Vanderbilt re-established its dominance when the two teams returned for the second half, reeling off a 17-2 run. Taylor got things going with a falling jumper from the top of the key and Tinsley followed with another mid-range jumper of his own. Festus Ezeli then threw down yet another dunk in between a pair of Andre Walker baskets to force Jaspers head coach Barry Rohrssen to take another 30-second timeout inside the 16-minute mark.

Just like in the first half, the break in action seemed to do little to slow down the Commodores as Walker, Ogilvy and Steve Tchiengang got into the dunk party while Beal and sophomore Lance Goulbourne hit shots from the perimeter or converted at the free throw line. By the time Rohrssen took another timeout, the Commodores led 74-29.

Vanderbilt would push the lead to a game-high 48 points when Darshawn McClellan converted on a running layup and Tinsley hit a three from the wing. Kevin Stallings replaced his core players with walk-ons Joe Duffy, Chris Meriwether, Aaron Noll and Jordan Smart during the games final seven minutes of play.

Jenkins led all scorers with 15 points. The Gallatin native also pulled down six rebounds and registered three assists. Ogilvy was the only other Commodore in double-digits with 12. The Australian center also posted three blocks and eight rebounds in the win. Beal, Tinsley and Walker scored nine apiece while Tchiengang, Ezeli and Goulbourne all scored seven or more. Ezeli posted four blocks and six boards in the win. Taylor, who came into the game averaging nearly 16 points, was held to a season-low six points while playing just 12 minutes due to early foul trouble.

Darryl Crawford and Rico Pickett, Manhattan's two best scorers coming into the game, shot a combined 8-of-28 in the loss and scored 23 points. The Jaspers committed 16 turnovers and were blocked 10 times overall. Freshman center Kevin Laue, who born with just one hand, scored his first career point on a free throw with three minutes left in the game. The Vanderbilt crowd gave the 6-foot-11 center a respectful round of applause. Laue also grabbed a career-high eight rebounds in 17 minutes of play.

"That's an amazing story and an amazing thing to see and you've got to admire any athlete to go out there and compete the way he did. He went and got rebounds. He plays physical and throws his body around, I was very impressed. It was inspiring to see, I obviously don't want anybody on their team to play well but I enjoyed watching him play because he played so hard and competed so well. I was very impressed."

Vanderbilt shot 43.8-percent from the field, converting on just 5-of-23 from behind the arc. The registered 16 assists while committing just 11 turnovers despite the lulls of the first half.

Vanderbilt improves to 9-3 with the win while Manhattan drops to 6-6 on the year. The Commodores will return to action on Saturday when the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles come to Memorial Gym. Tip-off for 2 p.m. CST and will be available on the Fox Sports Network.





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