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SEC MEN'S TOURNAMENT - 2ND ROUND - Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, Tennessee

Second-half surge propels Vandy past Texas A&M

50 days ago
Associated Press

Game Notes | Vanderbilt Quotes | Texas A&M Quotes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Joe Toye scored a career-high 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting outside the arc, and Vanderbilt shook off a sluggish start in beating Texas A&M 66-41 Thursday night at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

With the win, the seventh-seeded Commodores (18-14) snapped a four-game skid in the tournament with their first victory since beating Kentucky in the 2013 quarterfinals. The SEC's best 3-point shooters shook off an ugly first half to knock down 8 of 14 outside the arc in the second half to beat the Aggies for a third time this season.

Now Vanderbilt will get a chance at another three-game sweep of No. 19 Florida in the quarterfinals on Friday night.

Riley LaChance added 14 points for Vanderbilt, and Nolan Cressler had 11.

Tenth-seeded Texas A&M (16-15) was held to a season low in points. Tyler Davis led the Aggies with 18 points, and Admon Gilder added 11.

This was the first time these teams have met in the tournament, not that the change of venue mattered as Vanderbilt improved to 8-2 all-time in this series.

Both teams struggled to shoot in the first half. Texas A&M went through a scoring drought that lasted 10:18, turning it over eight times with one shot clock violation. Vanderbilt failed to take advantage, missing 14 of 16 shots and allowing the Aggies to tie it up at 9 with 7:44 left on an alley-oop dunk by Robert Williams.

Vanderbilt took a 23-20 lead into halftime with LaChance finishing the half the same way he started with a long 3.

Whatever first-year coach Bryce Drew said at halftime, the Commodores came out knocking down shots after going 3 of 15 from 3-point range in the first half.

They hit their first three shots to take control. Toye hit a pair of 3s around a layup by Cressler for an 8-0 spurt. By the time LaChance hit his fourth 3, he gave the Commodores their biggest lead at 44-30 with 13:04 to go. They just kept hitting 3s and pushed the lead to as much as 25 on Toye's final bucket, a layup with 5:33 left.

The Commodores face No. 2 seed Florida in the quarterfinals of the tournament Friday on SEC Network at 7 p.m. ET.