Jenkins rallies No. 18 Vandy past Georgia, 64-56
Jenkins scored all of his 21 points in the second half and No. 18 Vandy rallied from a second-half deficit of 14 points to beat the Bulldogs 64-56 on Wednesday night.
Jenkins, the leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference, was scoreless before making a 3-pointer with 13:15 remaining when Georgia led 40-26. It was the first of five 3-pointers for the sophomore.
“Their defense was so good, it was hard to do anything,” Jenkins said. “I got that one little good look, and that boosted my confidence for the rest of the game.”
It was an important road victory for a Vanderbilt team best known for its home success. The Commodores (19-6, 7-4 SEC) are only 3-5 away from Nashville, including 2-3 in conference games.
“It’s a big-time confidence boost,” Jenkins said. “Everyone knows we’ve kind of struggled a little bit on the road.”
The Bulldogs’ last field goal came on a 3 by Travis Leslie for a 53-40 lead with 9:49 to go.
Led by Jenkins, Vanderbilt closed the game with a 24-3 run as Georgia managed only three free throws.
“I thought we were being aggressive but the shots just wouldn’t fall,” Leslie said.
The Commodores moved past Georgia (17-8, 6-5) for second place in the SEC East. Gerald Robinson led the Bulldogs with 15 points.
Jenkins has scored in double figures in all 25 games this season, including 15 games with 20 or more points. He leads the SEC with his averages of 19.8 points overall and 22.3 in SEC games.
“We knew at some point he was going to come in and get hot,” said Georgia’s Dustin Ware. “He’s a great shooter. You’re never going to shut him down completely.”
After ending his scoring drought, Jenkins had three more 3-pointers in a 12-0 run, capped by another 3 from Brad Tinsley, to cut Georgia’s lead to 53-52.
Jenkins’ fifth 3-pointer tied the game at 55, and he scored again to give Vanderbilt a 57-55 lead with 2:50 remaining. It was the Commodores’ first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
“Once that first one went down, you’re afraid that’s going to get him going,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said.
Jenkins had a career-high 32 points in the Commodores’ 81-77 home win over Kentucky on Saturday.
Festus Ezeli, who had 10 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks, said he wasn’t worried when Jenkins’ shots were not falling.
“At one point I was like, ‘All right, John, it’s time to score,’ and then he had 21 in the second half,” Ezeli said. “That’s crazy.”
It was the second straight game in which Georgia has had a letdown after taking a big lead. The Bulldogs almost blew a big cushion before holding on for a 60-56 win at South Carolina on Saturday.
“Sure, I’m concerned,” Fox said.
Vanderbilt made 12 of 25 3-pointers, including eight in the second half.
“Vanderbilt simply made some critical plays,” Fox said. “They got a few loose balls that led to 3-pointers, and those are backbreakers.”
Vanderbilt had a 49-32 advantage in rebounds. Jeffery Taylor had seven points and 13 rebounds. Rod Odom scored 11 points.
Ware had 12 points on four 3-pointers. Trey Thompkins shot only 2 of 10 for eight points. Leslie had nine points and 11 rebounds.
Vanderbilt shot 8 of 37 (21.6 percent) in the first half as Jenkins missed each of his five shots.