Nashville, TN- The Vanderbilt Commodores returned to Nashville after a hard-fought loss to No. 2-ranked Auburn on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Texas A&M was looking to get back in the NCAA tournament picture during the final stretch of the season after winning their last game against Florida. It would be no easy task however, with Vanderbilt winning three straight home games coming in, as well as playing their best basketball of the season. The game was close throughout, with Texas A&M’s potential SEC sixth man of the year Quenton Jackson going off for 23 points off the bench. Finally, in a close game Vanderbilt was able to hold on by a score of 72-67 in their fourth straight win at home and their sixth conference win of the season. That ties their total win total in conference play over the past two seasons combined. Scotty Pippen Jr. led the way with 24 points and six assists.
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively in the first half, with sloppy passing leading to turnover after turnover that led to both teams being out of rhythm for the entirety of the first half. Jordan Wright set the tone defensively for Vanderbilt early in the game. He outhustled everyone to loose balls, drawing a big charge in the first few minutes of the game, and was active in passing lanes throughout the entire game. He had six steals on the day along with 15 points.
Vanderbilt went on a 9-0 run to open the second half with Wright being ultra-aggressive on both ends of the floor, resulting in forcing multiple bad shots for Texas A&M. That resulted in transition baskets and free throw opportunities for himself and Pippen Jr. Later in the second half, Texas A&M would respond with their own 9-0 run to take a 54-50 lead with just over nine minutes to play. From then on, it was the duo of Pippen Jr and Wright who combined to score 15 of the team’s final 21 points.
As Pippen Jr. normally does, he took control of the game in the second half, pushing the tempo, getting in the lane, and collapsing the defense and threading the needle when needed. The biggest surprise in helping Vanderbilt close out A&M for the win today was Minnesota transfer Liam Robbins. Robbins added much-needed size and strength boost to Vanderbilt’s frontcourt and his impact was evident when the floor shrunk throughout the game. Robbins added 14 points, eight rebounds along with two big blocks in the final four minutes of the game to help compliment Pippen Jr and Wright’s efforts. With both teams shooting poorly from three the entirety of the game, it was Vanderbilt’s frontcourt that was the difference in the last four minutes of the game.
Vanderbilt (14-12, 6-8) will look to extend their winning streak on Tuesday when they host No,. 25-ranked Alabama (17-10, 7-7.) Texas A&M (16-11, 5-9) will look to rebound from their loss as they host last place Georgia (6-21, 1-13) also on Tuesday.