NASHVILLE, Tenn.-A 23-0 run that spanned two halves helped Vanderbilt break open a tie game, as the Commodores routed Southern Indiana by a 77-40 score in an exhibition contest at Memorial Gymnasium on Monday evening.
John Jenkins (20 points), Jeffery Taylor (13) and Brad Tinsley (10) led the Commodores in scoring in their final tune-up before Friday's opener against Presbyterian.
The Division II Screaming Eagles, who went 24-3 last season, and played preseason No. 13 Illinois down to the wire before losing 76-67 last week, played VU to a draw for the first 15 minutes, but couldn't contend with the 'Dores height and athleticism.
VU held USI to 25.4 percent shooting, blocked seven shots, and forced 30 turnovers.
Vanderbilt broke open a tight first half with a 15-0 run at the end of the period that spanned 5:20, much in part to an aggressive man-to-man defense that created some easy looks on the other end of the floor.
After converting a pair of foul shots on the previous possession to start the run, Tinsley picked up a steal and a dunk on a fast break. After another Screaming Eagle turnover, Jenkins buried a 3 from the top of the key to put Vandy up, 23-16.
A pair of Jenkins foul shots on the next possession added to the lead, and a Tchiengang baseline jumper moments later, gave the 'Dores an 11-point lead.
About two minutes later, a turnover led to a Jenkins-to-Rod Odom fast-break lay-up, and then Tinsley closed out the half with a pull-up jumper in the lane with just seconds remaining, as VU took a 31-16 lead at the break.
USI shot just 21.4 percent for the first half, though it out-rebounded the Commodores, 23-12, including 11 offensive boards.
"I certainly think the story of tonight was our defense," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said following the game. "Even while our offense was really stagnant, our defense was really, really, really good. If you can play defense that way then that's a good thing. They're a better team, they played Illinois to a 9 point game last week, and it might have been closer than that. I had absolutely no thoughts that our game would end up like this."
"They kept us on one side of the floor," Southern Indiana coach Rodney Watson said. "It was a real key for us since we were hoping to get the ball reversed, and their style of defense is very underestimated because they do a terrific job of guarding the arc and keeping the ball on one side. If they do that in the SEC there are going to be a lot of happy nights in this building and other buildings as well."
Tinsley led all scorers at the break with eight points.
A jumper by Taylor to open the half, a steal by Tinsley that ended with an alley-oop dunk by Taylor, a mid-range jumper by Jenkins, and two Andre Walker free throws accounted for the first eight points of the second half, and VU had a 39-16 lead.
USI responded with an 8-0 run, but VU quickly answered with a pair of free throws and a 3 by Jenkins, and was never threatened the rest of the way.