The Vanderbilt Commodores (9-4) got 19 points from senior forward Jeffery Taylor in a 74-57 upset win over the No. 14/13 Marquette Golden Eagles (11-2) Thursday night at the Bradley Center.
The Commodores controlled the momentum from the opening tip, jumping out to a 31-6 lead to open the game and leading by as many as 27 in the first half.
Shooting guard John Jenkins and point guard Brad Tinsley combined for 22 points and five 3-pointers in that half, as the Commodores shot 52 percent from the field and 58 percent (7-of-12) from long range.
A turning point in the contest came early when sophomore forward Davante Gardner, starting in the place of the injured Chris Otule, picked up his second foul at the 14:55 mark of the first half. Four Marquette players picked up two fouls by intermission.
“After we got a couple quick fouls on Gardner, we were able to get the game in our control,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “I just tried to not look at the scoreboard there in the first half for a while, because I was sure I was in a mirage or something, seeing things.”
Marquette struggled offensively without Gardner, hitting just two of its first 20 shots to open the game. The Golden Eagles were unable to find many open looks against Vanderbilt’s size and length, shooting just 21.2 percent and scoring a season-low 22 first half points.
“We were too reliant on making shots, in hopes that would increase our energy and our emotion,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “Doesn’t work that way. Not within how we’re built. So we got exactly what we deserve.”
The Golden Eagles were able to cut the lead to 16 on two different occasions in the second half, but Vanderbilt responded on both trips to keep the lead extended.
“You learn a little bit more about your team when you play one of Buzz’s teams,” Stallings said. “You figure out what kind of fight they’ve got, what kind of toughness level they’ve got, what kind of heart they have.”
Forward Lance Goulbourne, starting in place of Ezeli, took advantage of Marquette’s interior and Gardner’s foul trouble to finish with 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Ezeli, who had missed the past two games recovering from a knee injury, finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes for the Commodores.
Senior forward Jae Crowder finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Eagles, who were playing for the first time in a week.
The Golden Eagles outscored Vanderbilt 35-30 in the second half, and while Williams acknowledged it meant little to the outcome of the contest, he was happy with the way his players responded after halftime.
“’We can handle this like champs or we can handle this like chumps and we can grow together or we can splinter apart,’” Williams told his team. “And I thought some of our guys emotion and purpose was real good in the second half.”
Marquette returns to the Bradley Center Sunday afternoon when it opens its seventh Big East season against Villanova (7-6).