Vanderbilt 59, South Carolina 48

John Jenkins scored 21 points and Vanderbilt beat South Carolina

59-48 Wednesday night for its third straight victory.

The Commodores (20-8, 9-4 Southeastern Conference) also won

their 20th game, giving them seven such seasons in the past nine,

all under coach Kevin Stallings. Vanderbilt stayed in sole

possession of third in the SEC, a game behind No. 12 Florida before

Saturday’s trip to top-ranked Kentucky.

The Commodores won despite a sloppy performance saved mostly by

going 23 of 26 at the free-throw line in the second half.

South Carolina (10-17, 2-11) was held to a season-low in points

as the Gamecocks lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Festus Ezeli added 14 points and blocked four shots, and Lance

Goulbourne added 12 points. Jeffery Taylor, the SEC’s

second-leading scorer averaging 17.8 points, had a season-low

four.

Bruce Ellington led the Gamecocks with 15 points, and Damontre

Harris had 10.

Vanderbilt won easily 67-57 in Columbia, S.C., on Jan. 10, but

the Gamecocks did a much better job sticking around this time. The

Commodores, who didn’t push their lead to double digits until a

pair of Ezeli free throws with 4:19 left, held a third SEC opponent

below 50 points this season.

The Commodores looked tired and struggled shooting throughout.

They went cold in the first half after consecutive 3-pointers by

Jenkins, the last with 12:06 left, and didn’t score again until

Brad Tinsley’s layup with 7:25 to go.

Ellington got going, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers himself. He

then drove for a layup for his first eight points of the game and

South Carolina’s final eight of the first half. That layup tied up

Vanderbilt for the third time in the half at 22.

The Commodores couldn’t even get off a decent shot after taking

a timeout to set it up with 33 seconds remaining. Goulbourne lost

the ball, chased it down and then threw up a shot that came nowhere

close to the basket. The sequence was so sloppy a couple of boos

were heard.

The lead went back and forth in the opening half with South

Carolina holding its last lead at 27-26 on a pair of free throws by

Harris. Then Taylor, who missed his first six shots, finally scored

off a lob from Tinsley with 17:11 left. That put Vanderbilt ahead

with the sixth and final lead change and starting an 11-3

spurt.

Jenkins hit a 3 and had a pair of free throws for a 37-30 lead

that was the Commodores’ largest with 14:12 left.

The Gamecocks never got closer than three the rest of the way as

Vanderbilt kept going to the free-throw line after hitting both

attempts in the first half.