Vanderbilt-Auburn Preview

SEC leading scorer John Jenkins sparked a second-half comeback

in Vanderbilt’s last game. Jeffery Taylor was the go-to scorer in

the team’s most recent matchup with Auburn.

The league’s second highest-scoring duo will try to get the

18th-ranked Commodores off to a better start Saturday at Auburn

Arena, where they go for their season high-tying fifth consecutive

win.

Jenkins, averaging a career-best 19.8 points, hit five

3-pointers and scored all 21 of his points after halftime in

Wednesday’s 64-56 victory at Georgia. Vanderbilt (19-6, 7-4)

overcame a 14-point second-half deficit after scoring 21 in the

first half and shooting a season-low 21.6 percent in the opening 20

minutes.

“Their defense was so good, it was hard to do anything,” said

Jenkins, a sophomore averaging 26.5 points and hitting 11 of 20

from 3-point range in the last two games. “I got that one little

good look, and that boosted my confidence for the rest of the

game.”

The Commodores are second in the East, two games behind Florida

and one ahead of Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee.

In an 82-74 win over Auburn on Jan. 23, 2010, it was Taylor

carrying the Commodores to victory following a sluggish first half.

The forward had all 18 of his points in the second half as

Vanderbilt outscored the Tigers 50-31 in the final 20 minutes to

win its fourth straight in this matchup.

Jenkins had nine points off the bench.

Jenkins and Taylor, scoring a combined 34.1 points per game –

second only to Kentucky’s Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight (35.4)

in the SEC – might not need big late-game efforts in this

matchup.

Auburn (9-16, 2-9) has dropped nine of 11 and is last in the SEC

West. Coming off a 65-62 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday

when it erased a 19-point second half deficit to earn its first

league home win of the season, coach Tony Barbee’s team was awful

on both ends of the floor in Wednesday’s 90-59 loss at

Mississippi.

The Tigers committed 17 turnovers, and the Rebels shot 70.0

percent in the second half – 56.8 percent overall.

“It just makes it hard when you can’t score,” Barbee told the

school’s official website. “It goes back to what we did in the

first half. We played good defense and had them stuck on 15 for

five minutes. We just couldn’t score.”

Auburn had just one player in double figures – freshman guard

Chris Denson, who had a season-high 16 points. The starting five of

Allen Payne, Kenny Gabriel, Adrian Forbes, Josh Wallace and Earnest

Ross combined for 26.

The Tigers, 11th in the 12-team SEC in scoring at 63.3 points

per game, could struggle again if Vanderbilt can duplicate

Wednesday’s effort.

The Commodores held the Bulldogs to just three free throws in

the final 9:47.

“When we started making (shots) I thought it energized our

defense and we started getting more stops and we rebounded the ball

great which was the difference for us tonight,” coach Kevin

Stallings said.

Vanderbilt, looking for its sixth 20-win season in eight years,

trailed by as many as 16 in the first half of its last visit to

Auburn – an 82-75 victory on Jan. 31, 2009.

The Commodores lead the all-time series 81-51.