NASHVILLE, Tenn. – John Jenkins scored 18 points, Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli added 17 apiece and No. 24 Vanderbilt routed South Carolina 78-60 on Saturday to snap a two-game skid.
The Commodores (16-6, 4-4) desperately needed a win to stay in the SEC East chase. After blowing a 14-point at South Carolina to open conference play, and with losses to Arkansas and in overtime at Florida, they already had matched their league losses from a season ago.
Brad Tinsley also had 11 points and nine assists for Vandy.
South Carolina (13-8, 4-4) has lost three of four, and this one ties the Gamecocks with Vanderbilt at the bottom of the Eastern Division.
Ramon Galloway led South Carolina with 16 points before fouling out. Bruce Ellington had 13, Malik Cooke 12 and Sam Muldrow 11.
Vanderbilt outshot the Gamecocks all over the court but dominated beyond the arc. The Commodores hit 11 of 20 from 3-point range, their most 3s against an SEC opponent this season and just two shy of the 13 they hit in beating Southeastern Louisiana in December.
South Carolina was 6 of 21 from 3-point range and struggled just as much from the foul line, hitting 6 of 21 free throws.
Taylor helped Vanderbilt build the lead in a nice rebound after coach Kevin Stallings made him come off the bench in his first missed start all season. Taylor had only seven points before fouling out at Florida, and he had hit only 10 3s in his first two seasons at Vanderbilt.
He's been shooting away from outside this year as a junior, though, and hit a career-high four 3-pointers in connecting on each of his shots from outside.
Vanderbilt led 30-23 at halftime for its first halftime lead in SEC play since Jan. 15, when the Commodores were up 30-20 at Tennessee.
The teams swapped the lead five times with four ties when Taylor got going. He rebounded a missed shot by Ezeli and spun through the lane for a layup. He then hit a 3-pointer and assisted on Ezeli's bucket with 7:41 left that put the Commodores up for good at 18-17.
Ellington hit a jumper, and Galloway scored on a layup to pull the Gamecocks within 25-23. But Ezeli scored underneath, and freshman Rod Odom hit a 3 just before the buzzer for the biggest lead of the half for either team. Odom hit all three of his 3s for his nine points.
Vandy just pushed the lead to double digits in the second half and led by as much as 22 on Taylor's fourth 3 of the game, 58-36 with 10:25 left.
Unlike the last game between these teams, the Commodores didn't let South Carolina chisel away at this lead. The Gamecocks got within 65-51 on a 3 by Ellington, but that was as close as they would get this time.