'Dores Drop Georgia Southern 96-60 11/26/02

Behind a first half 20-2 run, the Commodores (3-0) upended Georgia Southern (2-1) 96-60 Tuesday night at Memorial Gym. Vanderbilt was led by the trio of Thornton, Lakey, and Freije as the 'Dores shot 62% from the field and 62% from three-point range.

Led by Julius Jenkins, averaging 22 points per game, the Eagles put an early scare into the Commodores as they jumped out to a 9-1 lead with 17:33 in the half. But the 'Dores rallied for an 8-0 run keyed by sophomore Corey Smith's three-pointer to even the game at 16.

The game remained close until Vanderbilt's Russell Lakey and Brian Thornton put the team on their back and carried the 'Dores on a 20-2 run to move the score to 46-28. Thornton, sophomore from Louisville, made his inside presence known as he pulled down 5 rebounds and scored 11 points in the first half. Lakey, whose offensive penetration got Jenkins in early foul trouble, finished the half with a flurry by netting 8 points in the final 2:37 of the half.

The most dramatic exchange of the game occurred in the final minutes of the first half between point guards Lakey and Jenkins who hounded each other all night. Lakey, tightly guarded by Jenkins, drained a three-pointer with :36 left. Then Jenkins, shadowed by Lakey, buried his own three-ball. With :17 left Lakey, determined not be outplayed by Jenkins, broke away from Jenkins with a crossover dribble and dropped another three-pointer at the first half buzzer to bring the 6,236 fans at Memorial Gym to their feet.

Vanderbilt led at halftime 57-36. The 57 first half points was the most since 1999.

The second half was more of the same as the Commodores played superb defense and had stellar rebounding en route to the 96-60 win. Once again, as in the previous two games, every player on the bench saw the floor.

Jenkins scored 21 points including 5 three-pointers to lead the Eagles. Also playing big for Georgia Southern was Frank Bennett who poured in 14 points and 10 rebounds.

It was tough to single out one player that led Vanderbilt Tuesday night. You could choose Freije and his team high 22 points. Or you might go with Thornton and his near double-double of 18 points and 9 rebounds. But, if you have to pick one, Lakey keyed the win when he poured in 15 first half points and put the game out of reach during the first half 20-2 run. Lakey finished with 15 points 8 assists and 4 steals.

Vanderbilt returns to action Sunday night to face the #12 UConn Huskies at 8 pm at Memorial Gym. Click here for more information on Memorial Magic Night.

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