Vols hold off Vandy for season sweep

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee defeated in-state rival Vanderbilt for the sixth consecutive time on Tuesday night, 65-61.

The Vols (15-11, 7-6 SEC) fended off a furious late push by the Commodores (9-17, 1-12 SEC) to secure the home victory.

Senior Jordan Bowden and junior John Fulkerson led the Big Orange with 17 points each.

Fulkerson, who recorded 16 of those points in the second half, also accounted for seven rebounds and three blocks, marking the third time this season that he has recorded three rejections, his season-high.

Jordan Wright came off the bench to lead Vanderbilt in scoring, posting 23 points.

Tennessee shot 42 percent from the field on the night.

While both teams struggled early from the field, the Vols held a 9-2 advantage after six minutes of action. Along with strong defensive play, Josiah-Jordan James corralled four rebounds during that early stretch.

A 3-point make by the Commodores at the 5:44 mark of the first half tied the contest at 17.

Then, Bowden's second triple of the night narrowed Tennessee's deficit to just two and stifled a 10-0 Vanderbilt run.

The game was tied, 28-28, after 20 minutes, with Bowden leading the Vols with 12 points at the break. SEC Defensive Player of the Year candidate Yves Pons was 3-5 from the field at the half.

In a back-and-forth start to the second stanza, a Commodore basket six minutes into the half tied the game for the fifth time.

Just prior to the under-12 media timeout, a Santiago Vescovi jumper snapped a 9-0 run by Vanderbilt.

Midway through the second half, Bowden and Fulkerson converted three-point plays on consecutive possessions. Then, quick, scoring cuts to the basket by Jalen Johnson and Fulkerson allowed the Vols to maintain momentum.

Thompson-Boling Arena came alive after Tennessee blocks on two straight possessions and a nifty layup by Fulkerson off a feed from Vescovi. That series was followed by a 3-point make by Vescovi, giving Tennessee an eight-point lead.

Vescovi darted to the rim and finished with a finger roll with just over four minutes remaining. He finished the game with 14 points on 5-11 shooting in the victory.

A dunk by Pons topped a commanding 26-8 Tennessee run down the stretch, giving the Vols a 61-48 advantage.

Tennessee clinched the victory on a pair of made free throws from Bowden in the closing seconds, despite a significant last-minute push by the visiting Dores.

Droppin' Dimes: Santiago Vescovi has dished out at least five assists in six of the past seven games. The freshman sensation logged seven assists in Tuesday's win, his second-highest assist total of the season.

Bowden Finding His Groove: Jordan Bowden registered 17 points on a perfect 7-7 shooting from the free-throw stripe on Tuesday. He has scored 16+ points in four of UT's past five games.

Le Streak Continues: Yves Pons' eight points and six rebounds were accentuated by his block, as he extended his impressive streak to 26 consecutive games with at least one block.

Up Next: The Vols travel south to battle the Auburn Tigers Saturday on the Plains. Tip-off is set for Noon on WVLT and CBS.

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