NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kyle Fuller scored 17 points to lead Vanderbilt to a 66-55 victory over Cornell on Monday night.
Kedren Johnson added 15 points as the Commodores (5-4) staved off a second-half comeback by the Big Red (4-6).
Fuller and Johnson combined for the team’s first 17 points and Vanderbilt led by as much as 19, 33-14, in the first half.
But when Johnson, Vanderbilt’s leading scorer this season, went to the bench with his fourth foul 58 seconds into the second half, Cornell capitalized. The Big Red ripped off a 14-2 run and cut the deficit to 40-38 on consecutive layups from Eitan Chermerinski with 14:17 left.
Cornell missed its next five shots — all 3-pointers — and Vanderbilt responded with a 12-2 run to take an insurmountable 12-point lead.
Shonn Miller scored 13 and Chermerinski had 10 for the Big Red, who made just 18 of 60 shots (30 percent).
A layup by Johnathan Gray gave Cornell a 7-6 lead just more than three minutes in. Vanderbilt jumped in front for good on Fuller’s second 3-pointer. Then Vanderbilt stormed ahead with a 26-6 run over the next 11 minutes. The massive flurry included spurts of 11-0 and 10-0.
Cornell made just two baskets during a 14-minute stretch and fell behind 32-13 with 5:11 left in the half. The Big Red were playing for the first time since Dec. 1 after getting two weeks off for exams.
The rust showed as they shot 17.9 percent (5 of 28) from 3-point range. Cornell relied too much on the long ball, especially after closing the gap.
Johnson picked up his fourth foul less than a minute into the second half and went to the bench. Cornell turned up the full-court pressure and started attacking the basket. Chermerinski, a 6-foot-8 forward, scored eight points during a 14-2 run. His uncontested layup with 14:17 left cut the deficit to 40-38.
Cornell then went back to perimeter shooting but, with Vanderbilt switching to a zone defense, went cold from the outside. Vanderbilt answered with a 12-2 run, with eight points from Odom and six from Fuller. A rare five-point possession ended the spurt. As Odom sank his third 3-pointer, Fuller was fouled while setting his screen. He made both free throws to push the lead to 52-40 with 9:59 left.
Cornell made one last run, pulling within seven with less than 3 minutes left. Johnson answered with a three-point play. He drained a running jumper and converted the free throw for his first points since scoring 12 in the first half.
Vanderbilt received just two points from its reserves. Dai-Jon Parker accounted for the bench’s only basket with a transition layup in the last 30 seconds. Parker was playing his first game of the season after serving an eight-game suspension for a violation of non-academic team rules.
The sophomore shooting guard played a career-high 28 minutes to help fill Johnson’s void. His defense helped assure Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings of his 181st win at Memorial Gymnasium. Stallings, in his 14th year, is tied with Roy Skinner for the most home wins at Vanderbilt.