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UM Crushed, Teammates Argue, Fans Toss Debris, Kennedy’s Clock Counting Down

Last night, Ole Miss needed an RPI-boosting homecourt win over Vanderbilt to keep its miniscule NCAA Tournament hopes alive.  The Rebels didn’t get the win.  In fact, they got much worse.

Vandy shredded UM’s defense and rolled to a 102-76 win in Oxford.  Home teams in the SEC are winning at a 72% clip this season (48-18) and that number is even more skewed if you take Kentucky’s many road wins out of the mix.  To lose at home is rare.  To be blown clean out of your home arena… almost never happens.

After the game, however, things got worse for the Rebels.  Teammates Jelan Kendrick and Reginald Buckner had to be separated by coaches and UM staff members outside the team’s locker room.  Kendrick would not enter the locker room “for some time after the game,” according to Hugh Kellenberger of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger.  He also reports that Kendrick was heard complaining about Buckner’s defense against Commodore big man Festus Ezeli.

Parrish Alford of The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal called Kendrick’s outburst “a profanity-laced tirade.”

Andy Kennedy — who likely needs an NCAA bid to save his job — said that the teammate-on-teammate brouhaha began on the bench during the game and that he would determine a disciplinary response:

“I’ll figure it out.  You guys would be amazed at what happens on a day-to-day basis.  You got a little taste of it tonight… I’ve been doing this 16 years and when you’re in practice there’s competition and guys are going to get emotional at times.  Obviously there’s a line that can’t be crossed.”

Making matters still worse, Ole Miss was hit with three technical foul calls, one coming after Rebel fans through debris onto the court… for a second time.

Kennedy is likely NIT-bound again.  He was blown out at home in what amounted to a must-win game.  His fans became so angry they threw cups and debris on the floor.  Two of his teammates had a postgame altercation.  Kendrick — who was viewed as a risk when he transferred in from Memphis — was in the middle of the dust-up.  All this in a season in which the coach has had to dismiss two players — including leading scorer Dundrecous Nelson — because they were busted smoking pot just hours after a game.

Add it up and Kennedy is in serious, serious trouble.  But Ole Miss is still searching for a new athletic director to replace Pete Boone.  So that bit of abnormality has to be factored into the equation.  Hmmm.  Can Archie Manning go find a basketball coach?  (What am I saying?  Rebel fans believe Manning can walk on water.)

Oh, and up next for Mississippi?  A short turnaround and a Saturday afternoon visit to Rupp Arena.  Ouch

While UM appears to be coming apart at the seams, Vanderbilt looks to be regaining form.  The Commodores hit on 17-of-24 shots from the floor (70.8%) and hit nine-of-11 from 3-point range (81.8%) in the first half alone.  For the game, Vandy shot 62.5% from the field and 63.2% from behind the arc.

Jeffery Taylor hit his first seven shots, had 18 points just seven minutes into the game and finished with 28 points and 9 boards for the Dores.

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VU And UK Win Easily Over UT And UGA

The favorites took care of business in the SEC last night as Vanderbilt thrashed Tennessee in the opener and Kentucky cruised past Georgia in the nightcap.


Vanderbilt 65, Tennessee 47

The Commodores rebounded from their overtime loss to Mississippi State with their ninth win in 10 games last night.  Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins combined for 39 points on 13-of-26 shooting from the field.  While Vandy raced out to a 9-0 lead, Tennessee continued to go cold on the road.

The Vols — who beat defending national champ UConn on Saturday — clanked in just 35% of their shots against VU’s stingy defense.  The Dores also forced Tennessee into a season-high 25 turnovers and held true freshman hotshot Jarnell Stokes to just 6 points.


Kentucky 57, Georgia 45

Georgia played nip-and-tuck basketball with the nation’s top-ranked team for about 10 minutes.  And then Kentucky came to life.  Senior Darius Miller led the Cats with 19 points as they pulled past UGA before the halftime break and then coasted to their 12th win in a row. 

Despite the win, John Calipari wasn’t pleased with his team’s uneven performance.  “Last year’s team, I couldn’t believe we were as good as we were so I didn’t have to say a whole lot.  This year’s team, we could be really special and we’re not right now.”

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VU’s Jenkins, Ezeli, Taylor To Return

Vanderbilt announced yesterday afternoon that basketball stars Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor will all return to Nashville for the 2011-12 season, bypassing the NBA draft.

“Obviously, we are very excited that those three guys have all decided to return to our program next season,” Kevin Stallings said via press release.  “All three carefully, thoughtfully, and diligently acquired information, with my help, about their draft status for the upcoming NBA draft.  After receiving the information, all three decided individually that it was their desire to return to Vanderbilt.  I comment and applaud them for the intelligent and diligent way they approached this process in making their decision.  Their return certainly positions our team for an exciting  season next year.”

Indeed it does.  Vanderbilt will likely go into the season ranked in the nation’s Top 15.

Now if they can just win a first-round NCAA Tournament game…

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Video: Post-Belmont press conference

Men’s basketball head coach Kevin Stallings, forward Jeffery Taylor and center Festus Ezeli answer questions from the media following the Commodores’ 85-76 win over Belmont.
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Vanderbilt-Belmont postgame notes

Starting Lineup• Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli started at center while freshman Rod Odom started at forward…this is the first time Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup.• Rod Odom is making his first-career start and his eighth appearance.• Jeffery Taylor leads the team with 72 career starts…Brad Tinsley made his 63rd career start…Festus Ezeli appeared in his 69th game; including his 19th start…John Jenkins has made 15 starts and played in 39 games.
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Vanderbilt-App. State notes

Starting Lineup• Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the fifth time this season and sixth time total that Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup.• Jeffery Taylor leads the team with 70 career starts…Brad Tinsley is making his 61st career start while Andre Walker is starting for the 38th time…Festus Ezeli is appearing in his 67th game, including his 17th start…John Jenkins has made 13 starts and played in 37 games.
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VU-Grambling State postgame notes

Starting Lineup• Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the fifth time this season and sixth time total that Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup.• Jeffery Taylor leads the team with 69 career starts…Brad Tinsley is making his 60th career start while Andre Walker is starting for the 37th time…Festus Ezeli is appearing in his 66th game, including his 16th start…John Jenkins has made 12 starts and played in 36 games.
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Vandy Topples #8 North Carolina

The SEC hasn’t had many highlights so far in the young basketball season.  Some exhibition losses to outclassed opponents.  Some struggles against lesser foes once the regular season began.  The league’s top-ranked team getting blasted at home.  A high-profile coach suspended for eight games.

Finally, there’s some good news: Vanderbilt upset #8 North Carolina in the third-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament yesterday.  It was Carolina’s second loss of the weekend and Vandy’s first win over a Top 10 foe since a 2008 win over Tennessee.

“Everyone’s up in arms when Carolina loses,” Kevin Stallings said.  “Our team’s not bad.”

John Jenkins, Festus Ezeli and Jeffery Taylor all scored 15+ for the Commodores.

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Vanderbilt-West Virginia Gamenotes

Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the fourth time Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup and the third time this season.
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Vanderbilt-Nebraska postgame notes

Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the third time Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup and the second time this season.
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