No. 25 Tennessee went three hours east to Nashville and blasted short-handed Vanderbilt, 70-58, at Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Victor Bailey Jr. (21 points) led Tennessee (16-6, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) in scoring, while Jaden Springer added 20 and made several key plays down the stretch. Yves Pons (10 points, 10 rebounds) added a double-double.
Tennessee shot 45.1 percent from the field, out-rebounded Vanderbilt by a 38-28 count and shot 81.8 percent (18 of 22) from the foul line.
Vanderbilt, which went 3 of 6 from the charity stripe, kept in it through a 39.4 percent showing (13 of 33) from 3.
The Commodores (6-13, 2-11) unexpectedly played without their top two scorers, Scotty Pippen Jr. (20.5 ppg) and Dylan Disu (15.0), who leads the league in rebounding (9.2). Vanderbilt did not give a reason for their absence and both were on the bench in street clothes.
So, Vanderbilt started a lineup of Jordan Wright, Isaac McBride, Quentin Millora-Brown, Max Evans and Braelee Albert, who combined to average 23.6 points coming in.
Predictably, it wasn't a pretty offensive night for Vandy, which had 19 turnovers, nine assists and eight made 2-point baskets.
Evans (13 points), McBride (11), Wright (10) and Trey Thomas (14) pitched in double-figure scoring for the 'Dores.
Tennessee led by 10 to start the second half, then the Vols ran off seven unanswered points to start the second period until an Evans 3 with 16:11 left.
McBride's back-to-back bombs with 9:34 and 9:07 remaining cut the Vol lead to 52-45.
Vandy's Evans drove the lane, got by Pons and threw down a highlight-reel dunk with 4:28 left, cutting it to 56-52.
Tennessee's Keon Johnson answered with two free throws and a spectacular back-door dunk over Albert to put the Vols up eight with 2:08 left.
Springer, his fellow freshman back-court mate, hit a layup 23 seconds later after Vanderbilt's Thomas had answered with foul shots.
Springer then picked up a steal with 1:07 left and hit two free throws, and Vandy didn't get within single digits again.
Thanks to 10 first-half Volunteer turnovers, Vanderbilt made it interesting for a while. The Commodores led 20-17 on a Thomas 3 with 6:44 left in the period.
But Vandy scored just one more time the rest of the half, that coming on a Millora-Brown layup, that in the midst of Tennessee's 15-2 run that gave the Vols a 32-22 edge at half.
Bailey led all scorers at the half with nine.
--Field Level Media