The Tulsa Golden Hurricane grabbed the lead with less than a minute to go in the first half and never looked back, knocking off the host Vanderbilt Commodores 67-58 in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday evening.
Guards Brandon Rachal scored 17 points to lead Tulsa (6-1), and Elijah Joiner added 12 off the bench.
Forward Aaron Nesmith finished with 26 points, six rebounds and three steals for Vanderbilt. Scotty Pippen Jr. added 12 points for the Commodores (5-2), and fellow guard Saben Lee chipped in 11.
Tulsa led by 10 with under six minutes to play, and Vanderbilt’s press made things interesting. The Commodores got a couple of steals, including one from Pippen, who fed a cutting Nesmith for a lay-up to cut the lead to 60-56.
But that was as close at Vandy got, as Rachal and Joiner combined to go 7 of 8 from the line in the final 1:55 to lock down the win.
Rachal’s jumper with 14:10 left in the second half gave Tulsa a 44-34 lead, the first double-digit margin for either team.
The Golden Hurricane put Vanderbilt in the bonus with 12:12 left, when Nesmith hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to seven.
A Nesmith 3-pointer from the left side cut the lead to three with 8:47 left, and brought the crowd to his feet.
Joiner answered with with a three-point play, then got an open-court lay-up off a Commodores turnover seconds later.
A pair of Joiner free throws at 7:37 raised the lead back to 10.
Rachal’s 3-pointer gave the Golden Hurricane their biggest lead at 12 6:30 to play. Vandy answered, but Rachal’s put-back with 5:11 left made it a dozen again.
Despite Nesmith’s 15-point first half, Tulsa led 34-30 at the break, with each team leading by six, and runs of 11-0 for Tulsa and 8-0 for Vanderbilt.
Nesmith started the game with a trey from the left corner, was knocked to the floor and hit the ensuing free throw just 49 seconds in.
With Tulsa leading midway through the first half, Nesmith started a run that put Vanderbilt ahead. The sophomore hit a 3-pointer, answered a Horne jumper with a lay-up, then nailed another trey with 8:16 left to put the Commodores up 24-18.
That’s when the Golden Hurricane went on an 11-0 run, ending with guard Reggie Jones’ 3-pointer to take a 29-24 lead.
Vanderbilt tied it again, but the Golden Hurricane scored the last five points of the half, including guard Lawson Korita’s 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer.
—Field Level Media