No. 25 Vandy loses again, 61-55 to Indiana State

The Vanderbilt Commodores keep insisting they’re the same team

as a season ago, with more experience. They’re getting much more

practice at losing on their own floor, however, and the latest loss

is likely to drop them back out of the Top 25.

Jeffery Taylor scored 21 points, but 25th-ranked Vanderbilt

scored only once in the final 6:31 in blowing an eight-point lead

during a 61-55 loss to Indiana State. It was the Commodores’ third

non-conference loss at Memorial Gym this season, the most since the

1977-78 season when they lost to St. John’s, Kansas State and

Virginia Tech.

”Just untimely for us to go cold in stretches,” Taylor said.

”I can’t really put my finger on it. I felt this was a game we

should’ve won. It’s really frustrating right now.”

That’s because these Commodores opened the season ranked seventh

nationally, their highest preseason ranking since 1965. Home losses

to Cleveland State and Xavier helped knock them out of the Top 25,

and they had just gotten back into the rankings at No. 25 with the

return of center Festus Ezeli from a sprained right knee that cost

him the first eight games.

This time, they were coming off a 10-day break for finals with

exams so scattered coach Kevin Stallings had trouble scheduling

practices or having all his players available to hit the floor. Now

they are 6-4, with the Southeastern Conference slate still

ahead.

”It was not a very good performance,” Stallings said. ”It was

not a very good week of practice. It was not a very good week

overall.”

Reserve RJ Mahurin scored 14 points, Carl Richard and Jordan

Printy each had 11 and Jake Odum added 10 with seven assists as

Indiana State got its first win over a ranked team since 2006.

Steve McWhorter held John Jenkins, the Southeastern Conference’s

top scorer, to a season-low 11 points, and the sophomore guard hit

two free throws with 3:32 left to put Indiana State ahead for

good.

”It’s not rocket science to look in there as much as possible

and scout the best you can,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing

said.

Indiana State (8-2) earned its fifth win in 12 games against SEC

teams and first since beating Vanderbilt on Dec. 22, 1984, in Terre

Haute. The Sycamores are off to their best start since opening 8-1

in 2005-06, and Lansing called this a big win for his program.

”It’s going to be a good ride home,” he said.

Jenkins had been averaging a league-best 21.3 points this

season. Brad Tinsley had 12.

”They did a good job of getting up on John,” Stallings said.

”He was too quick to try and pinch off shots. There was no rhythm

to our offense, but we had no rhythm the whole week of

practice.”

Looking rusty, Vanderbilt fell behind by 12 early before going

cold late, and Taylor had no explanation.

”We’re going to have to figure it out. It can’t keep going like

this,” he said. ”We’re a much better team than we’re playing

right now.”

The Sycamores led by as many as 12 in the first half and nine in

the second half. Vanderbilt rallied to take the lead each time and

led by as much as 53-45 with 6:32 left on Lance Goulbourne’s

three-point play. The Commodores then went cold and shot so poorly

late that fans started heading for the exits in the final

minute.

”I was worried some,” Lansing said of falling behind at that

point. ”We’ve done that a lot, letting opponents come back. We

calmed down on the offensive end, and that helped us be a better

defense. We’ve been guilty of poor offense leading to poor defense.

Having the ball in Odum’s hands at the end makes me feel

comfortable.”

Printy hit a 3-pointer, then McWhorter put Indiana State ahead

to stay with his free throws. Odum, who committed six turnovers,

scored four of his 10 points in the final 2:44 to help seal the

win.

Indiana State outshot Vanderbilt 43.1 percent (22 of 51) to 38

percent (19 of 50), and the Sycamores were even better from 3-point

range. They hit 10 of 21 compared to Vandy’s 6 of 22. Jenkins,

leading the nation with 3.9 3-pointers per game, was just 1 of 6

beyond the arc.

The Commodores struggled shooting even at the free throw line,

hitting only 11 of 18.

With the game tied at 28 at halftime, Indiana State scored 10 of

the first 11 points to open the second half and led 38-29 on a

fast-break layup by Odum.

Taylor started a 12-0 run with a 3, a pair of free throws,

another 3 and then a high-flying dunk off a steal by Tinsley that

had fans roaring. Tinsley then scored on a layup for a 41-38 lead

with 15:21 left. Vanderbilt grabbed its biggest lead at 53-45 but

didn’t score again until it was too late.