First-year coach Jerry Stackhouse wasn’t happy some fans booed, seemingly more concerned about a 34-year-old streak than the Vanderbilt team on the court.
Jordan Bowden scored 21 points, and the Vols beat the Commodores 66-45 Saturday, their fifth straight win in the series and their longest winning streak in the in-state rivalry in 38 years.
“That’s a really, honestly tough situation as a coach,” Barnes said. “You sit there and you see shots that are pretty good looks at it and just can’t go down for you. Again, I’ve been there. I have so much respect for Jerry Stackhouse, character, who he is. We’ve had some adversity, too.”
Tennessee (11-6, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won 10 straight against Vanderbilt from 1978 to 1982, and now these Vols also have won four straight at Memorial Gym.
Yves Pons and John Fulkerson each scored 12 points for Tennessee, which is 3-3 since losing senior guard Lamonte Turner for the season.
Vanderbilt (8-9, 0-4) tried 25 3-pointers trying to keep alive a streak that started when the shot was introduced for the 1986-87 season. Now UNLV and Princeton are the only schools left in that category.
“Basically once we got down to the end of the game and hadn’t made a 3, fans were more concerned about the 3s than us really even getting baskets,” Stackhouse said. “Guys were playing their a**** off and trying to compete. So it happens, man. I felt for those kids because they were out there playing and trying to compete and trying to do things the right way, and it just didn’t work out for them.”
The Commodores also lost their 22nd straight regular-season SEC game, a skid that started under former coach Bryce Drew. That ties the second-longest skid in SEC history, matching Alabama’s 22-game losing streak between 1960 and 1970, and is just two away from matching Sewanee’s mark of 24 consecutive losses between 1938 and 1940.
Vanderbilt has lost five straight overall, three of them since learning the SEC’s leading scorer, Aaron Nesmith, was likely lost for the rest of the season with an injured right foot. Starting a winning streak, not a new 3-pointer streak, is Stackhouse’s focus.
“We want to get a win for these guys,” he said.
Scotty Pippen Jr. led Vandy with 16 points. Junior Saben Lee added 14, becoming the 49th Vandy player to reach 1,000 career points. He’s scored 1,011.
These teams swapped the lead nine times with five ties in the first half. Tennessee scored 10 straight to go up 21-13 with 6:29 left. But the Vols went cold, and Vandy scored the final seven points to pull within 21-20 at halftime despite hitting only two of its final 13 shots.
Then the Vols opened the second half scoring the first 10 points as part of a 16-3 run. The lead grew to as many as 22 in the final minutes, Tennessee having made more shots — 10 of its first 11 — to start the second half than Vandy had for the game — nine of its 40 — at that point.
“We were able to get out and run, which we’ve been trying to get our guys to do that,” Barnes said.
TREYS NOT FALLING
The Vols went into the game leading the SEC with an average of nine 3s per game in league play. They missed all six in the first half and finished 1-for-8 from 3-point range after going 6-for-26 in a loss at Georgia. It didn’t matter Saturday, though because they used their size to outscore Vandy 42-20 in the paint. They shot 26-for-49 (53%) from the field.
Tennessee hosts Mississippi on Tuesday.