NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Over the past six games No. 24 Vanderbilt has gotten used to playing without its roster intact. It’s a good thing, too, because it may be a while before coach Kevin Stallings can utilize his full complement of players.
The Commodores (11-2) were without two starters Sunday, including leading scorer John Jenkins. It mattered little, though, as they blasted Davidson 80-52.
Jeffery Taylor scored 22 points for Vanderbilt, while Brad Tinsley and Steve Tchiengang each added 14 and Festus Ezeli chipped in 12. Tinsley, a 6-foot-3 guard, was the game’s leading rebounder with 10.
“When anybody goes down we have to come together as a team,” Taylor said. “I didn’t try to do anything out of the ordinary. I was just trying to be myself—be aggressive and take what the defense gives me. I was fortunate enough to make a lot of my shots.”
Taylor finished 6 of 10 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Vanderbilt shot 43.4 percent (23 of 53) and held Davidson to a season-low 29.3 percent (22 of 75).
“Jeff was great again in the first half,” Stallings said. “He’s starting to play very well lately. Brad was awfully good, too. Your point guard has 14 points and 10 rebounds and for the second game in a row has only one turnover. That’s awfully good point guard play.”
Jenkins, a sophomore shooting guard who is averaging 17.8 points per game, and Andre Walker, a 6-7 junior forward who averages 4.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists, both sustained injuries in practice. Jenkins suffered a concussion on Saturday when a teammate collided with him, and Walker twisted an ankle on Friday when he stepped on the foot of teammate.
“My best guess would be that John will be OK (for Vanderbilt’s SEC opener at South Carolina on Saturday) and Andre won’t be OK,” Stallings said. “He could be a while.”
Freshman Chris Czerapowicz had 16 points to lead Davidson (7-6). Jake Cohen, the Wildcats’ leading scorer at 14.9 points, was held to a season-low two points. He fouled out with 9:06 to play.
Vanderbilt used a 15-0 run to take a 23-6 lead with 11:05 to go in the first half. Tchiengang started the run with a 3-pointer on the right wing, and Tinsley capped it 5 minutes later with a 3-pointer from almost the identical spot.
The Commodores pushed the lead to 52-24 at the break, shooting 52 percent (13 of 25) in the opening 20 minutes while limiting Davidson to 28.9 percent (11 of 38).
“Nobody has gotten away from them all season long,” Stallings said. “I was the most shocked guy in the gym when the first half concluded.”
Taylor had 16 points in the opening stanza, and Tinsley had 11. The Commodores were just too much for the Wildcats on the defensive end, blocking six shots and forcing nine turnovers. They outscored Davidson 21-0 at the free throw line in the half.
Davidson’s biggest deficit all season had been 19 points to West Virginia. Vanderbilt surpassed that with 8:26 to go in the first half.
“Clearly this was quite a clinic put on by Vanderbilt,” Wildcats coach Bob McKillop said. “They are not just talented athletes. They are very disciplined and understand the system, and they don’t just do it at one end of the court, they do it at both ends.
“Hats off to Vanderbilt. They’re a terrific team. Playing without Jenkins and Walker and having that kind of performance is very impressive.”
Junior Lance Goulbourne, who was in his first game back following an NCAA-mandated two-game suspension, started in place of Walker. Freshman Rod Odom started in place of Jenkins, who had started all 12 games this season and was coming off his worst performance, a 4-of-21 shooting effort against Marquette on Wednesday.
The Marquette game was Walker’s first game back after missing four games with mononucleosis. He came back against the Eagles with a solid all-around game - seven points, eight rebounds and five assists.
“I hope we don’t have to go to South Carolina two men down,” Stallings said. “But if we do, then we do. We’re not going to make any excuses. Injuries and sicknesses are part of the game.
“I was very concerned about this game because we were shy two guys and two of your top six, that’s a big percentage. We’ve been able to overcome it so far.”
Stallings added that Ezeli’s knee was bothering him in the second half. He played only five of the final 20 minutes.
Taylor became the 41st player in Vanderbilt history to reach the 1,000-point mark.