NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt broke open a tie game late behind clutch foul shooting and a pair of lay-ups from John Jenkins, and held on to beat visiting Middle Tennessee State, 84-77, at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
MTSU led 72-70 with 4:56 left after LaRon Dendy scored two of his 22 points, but Jenkins answered with a lay-up and a free throw to put VU up one on the next trip.
Middle answered with a 3, but Jenkins hit another lay-up to put VU up one, and though Dendy tied the game with a foul shot on the next trip, Vanderbilt never trailed again thanks to hitting all four of its foul shots from that point on.
The Commodores trailed by as much as eight in the first half, but rallied back to go up 44-39 at the break, even though MTSU shot 61 percent while VU hit just 44.
Vanderbilt, though, hit 12-of-13 from the foul line and had just two turnovers, compared to 6-of-8 and eight, respectively, for MTSU.
Festus Ezeli led the way with 13 first-half points on 7-of-7 free throw shooting, and Jenkins also had 13, though they came on 11 shots.
Ezeli finished with a season-high 21 points. Jeffery Taylor added 17 and Lance Goulbourne finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for VU, as the Commodores snapped the Blue Raiders' 12-game winning streak and improved to 16-5.
MTSU fell to 20-3.