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Vanderbilt stuns No. 6 Tennessee at the buzzer, 66-65

IMG_3593by:Grant Ramey02/08/23


NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s win streak against Vanderbilt was 11. The number on the road at Memorial Gymnasium was six straight. But the run ended as the horn sounded Wednesday night.

Vanderbilt’s Tryin Lawrence hit a buzzer-beating 3-point shot from the corner as time expired to give the Commodores a 66-65 win and snap their losing streak in the in-state rivalry series.

Olivier Nkamhoua put Tennessee ahead on a jumper with 50 seconds left, but Santiago Vescovi missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the free-throw line with 8.0 seconds to go, giving Vanderbilt life with 4.8 seconds on the clock. Lawrence hit from the right corner out of a Vandy timeout, after the ball initially went to the left side of the floor.

Tennessee (19-5, 8-3 SEC) got 14 from Vescovi and Tyreke Key. Julian Phillips scored 10 and Tobe Awaka had eight points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Nkamhoua scored 10 points and Zakai Zeigler and Josiah-Jordan James combined for seven. James was helped off the floor with 15 seconds left after appearing to injure his left ankle.

Vanderbilt (12-12, 5-6) got a game-high 19 points from Lawrence, 14 more from Liam Robbins and 12 from Jordan Wright.

Vandy led 58-55 with four minutes left, but Vescovi tied it with a three from the wing. The ‘Dores went to the other end and retook the lead, 60-58, on a Wright transition layup. 

Vescovi tied it again on the next trip down, only 13 seconds later, putting back a missed Key layup with 3:31 to go.

Colin Smith hit three straight free throws with 2:04 left, putting Vandy up 63-60 after Smith was fouled on a corner three by Awaka. Vescovi tied it on the next possession with another wing three.

Vanderbilt finished 10-for-25 from the 3-point line, the most threes allowed by Tennessee’s defense this season.

Vols led 34-32 at halftime, after shooting 50 percent from field in first half

After shooting 27.4 percent over the last two games, Tennessee shot 50.0 percent from the field and went 4-for-11 from the 3-point line in the first half, leading Vandy 34-32 at the break.

Key, who had scored eight points on just eight shots over his previous four games, had a team-high 10 points in the first half, going 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-3 from the 3-point line.

Vesocvi and Nkamhoua scored six each in the first half and Phillips and Awaka both scored four, with Awaka grabbing three rebounds. 

Robbins had 11 points in the first half, going 3-for-4 from the 3-point line after making just 6 of 33 attempts (18.2 percent) from the arc over the first 19 games of the season. Tyrin Lawrence scored 12 points before the break, going 5-for-7 from the field and 2-for-3 from the 3-point line.

Vandy shot 48.0 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from the 3-point line, going 6-for-14 from deep.

Up Next: No. 6 Tennessee vs. Missouri, Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network

The Vols return home to host Missouri on Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena, a 6 p.m. Eastern Time start on SEC Network. The Tigers (18-6, 6-5 SEC), under first-year Mizzou coach Dennis Gates, beat Missouri 83-74 at home Tuesday night, bouncing back from the 63-52 loss at Mississippi State on Saturday.

Tennessee hosts No. 3 Alabama on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) then goes to Kentucky on February 18 (1 p.m. ET, CBS). The Vols stay on the road at Texas A&M on February 21, host back-to-back home games against South Carolina (February 25) and Arkansas (February 28), then close the regular-season schedule at Auburn on March 4.

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