MILWAUKEE — Jeffery Taylor scored 19 points to help Vanderbilt steamroll No. 14 Marquette 74-57 on Thursday night. John Jenkins added 14 points, and Lance Goulbourne had 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Commodores (9-4), who beat a ranked team for the first time this season.
Jae Crowder scored 16 points on 4-of-13 shooting for the Golden Eagles (11-2), who shot a season-low 32.2 percent from the field.
Vanderbilt, considered a top-10 team at the beginning of the season, came in unranked after a Dec. 17 loss to Indiana State. The Commodores came in with a 0-2 mark against ranked teams this season, with losses to Xavier and Louisville, both in overtime.But the Commodores looked worthy of their preseason ranking, smothering the Golden Eagles on defense and doing just about anything they wanted on the other end.
Marquette has lost two of its past three after starting the season 10-0. The Golden Eagles dropped their first game this season at LSU on Dec. 19. Marquette shot 36.2 percent in that game, its previous season low. The Golden Eagles rebounded with a victory over in-city rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee a week ago.
But the Golden Eagles seemed a step slow on both ends of the floor Thursday, no more so than on one defensive play early in the second half.
With Vanderbilt inbounding the ball from the baseline, Marquette somehow left Jenkins, Vanderbilt’s leading scorer and best 3-point shooter, wide open from long range. He nailed the 3 to give the Commodores a commanding 55-32 lead with an agonizing 14:49 left in the game.
Things went poorly from thestart for the Golden Eagles, who shot 1 for 16 from the field to start the game.
Marquette tried to get the ball to forward Jae Crowder down low early on, but it wasn’t working with several Vanderbilt defenders collapsing on him every time he touched the ball. Crowder started the game 0 for 7.
Vanderbilt welcomed back center Festus Ezeli, who had played in only two games this season while recovering from a right knee sprain. Ezeli entered the game with 16:46 left in the first half, wearing a bulky brace on his knee.
It certainly didn’t seem to slow down the Commodores’ big man. Vanderbilt took a 29-6 lead when Ezeli missed a free throw, a long rebound came out to Vanderbilt’s Kedren Johnson and he fed the ball to Jenkins, who drilled a 3-pointer, then wildly pumped his fist in the air in celebration.
But the party was just getting started for the Commodores, as Jeffery Taylor stole the ball from Junior Cadougan and coasted to the other end for an emphatic slam dunk that put Vanderbilt up 31-6 with 8:44 left in the first half.
Brace and all, Ezeli showed he still could leap, slamming home an alley-oop pass from Jenkins for a 35-8 lead with 7:15 left.
Marquette then went on a short 8-2 run, but missed an opportunity to really cut into Vanderbilt’s lead. The Golden Eagles came up with stops on four straight Commodores possessions, but came away with only a pair of free throws by Crowder. Vanderbilt took a 44-22 lead into halftime as Marquette shot
21.2 percent in the first half.