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November 18, 2010Vanderbilt's 20-7 run over the last nine minutes of the game, punctuated by a pair of huge shots from John Jenkins, provided just enough points for a struggling offense, as the Commodores came back to defeat Nebraska, 59-49, in the opening round of the Honda Tip Off tournament.
With the Commodores trailing 46-43 with 6:23 left in the game, Jenkins drilled a 3 off a pass from Steve Tchiengang to tie the game.
On VU's next possession, Jenkins drilled another long attempt-this one, just inside the arc-to put VU up a pair, and the Commodores never trailed again.
Tchiengang also added a big 3 of his own from the left side, giving VU a 54-48 lead with 2:24 left and essentially put the game out of reach for a Cornhusker team that went 0-for-10 on 3-point attempts.
Jenkins scored a game-high 22 points, and Jeffery Taylor added 14.
The 'Huskers tried to slow the tempo against VU, and it worked for most of the day. Vandy shot 39.1 percent against Nebraska's man-to-man defense, which didn't give the 'Dores a lot of open looks for most of the day.
"I'm really proud of our team. We didn't play very well, and Nebraska certainly had something to do with that," Commodore coach Kevin Stallings said.
"Some games, you just have to win. I told our team after the game that it's not an art contest, it's a math contest. They don't give you style points. You don't care how pretty it is, you've just got to get the job done."
The Commodores were either tied or trailed for approximately 25 minutes, and until Jenkins' go-ahead bucket, VU hadn't led since Christian Standhardinger's jumper at the 10:18 mark of the first half put Nebraska ahead, 14-12.
VU shot just 37.5 percent of its 24 shots, committed seven turnovers, and trailed 28-26 at the break.
Taylor had 10 at the half, but missed a fast-break dunk and 4-of-8 free throws.
VU post players Festus Ezeli and Tchiengang each picked up two early fouls, which helped Nebraska get most of its points in the paint.
Brandon Ubel was the only double-figure scorer for NU.
The Commodores play West Virginia at 11:30 a.m. Central on Friday. The Mountaineers, a Final Four team a year ago, beat Davidson by an 84-70 score just before Vanderbilt's game on Thursday.