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November 7, 2011

Fast start helps Vandy blow past Xavier (La.) in exhibition

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Vanderbilt scored on its first 15 times down the floor, setting an early tone for its 102-62 rout of Xavier (La.) in an exhibition contest at Memorial Gymnasium on Monday evening.

Jeffery Taylor led the way with 17 points. Freshman Kedren Johnson scored 16, John Jenkins added 15, and Shelby Moats, 10.

The Commodores built a lead of 20 in the first 6:55 of the game, and led 58-32 at half despite emptying the bench early. Fourteen players played at least six minutes, with nobody playing more than 19.

It wasn't until a missed jumper by Brad Tinsley at the 11:05 mark that the 'Dores failed to score on a trip down the floor.

"If we're scoring 15 possessions in a row - and I'll have to go back and watch the tape - some of it is probably because of execution, and a lot of it is probably because of talent. We were able to get the ball and transition and go, which we like to do," coach Kevin Stallings said.

It was the debut of a smaller lineup for the Commodores with center Festus Ezeli slated to miss the first two months with a knee injury. Steve Tchiengang started at center, and was flanked by Taylor and Lance Goulbourne.

Still, VU was able to out-rebound the Gold Rush 41-20, with Goulbourne snaring eight.

"We're going to have some makeshift lineups in there from time to time, especially with Fes being out. I think I can hold my own down there against bigger guys, use my quickness and strength against them," Goulbourne said.

"But, I think it makes us a faster team. We can get up and down a lot better. That'll just lead to a better transition (game)."

VU out-scored Xavier 14-2 on fast-break points, and Stallings says fans will see a lot of that this year.

"This needs to be a team that runs. This needs to be a team that pushes the pace, pushes the tempo, and tries to get the game played in conversion," Stallings said.

Johnson hit nine of 10 foul shots in his Memorial Gym debut, and passed out three assists to no turnovers.

Newcomers Moats and Dai-Jon Parker also suited up for the first time. Moats hit 2-of-5 behind the 3-point arc, and Parker added five points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 18 minutes.

Xavier is an NAIA squad playing in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, where it went 26-7 last year.

Next up is Oregon on Friday at 9 in Nashville. The Ducks are expected to contend for an NCAA Tournament bid this season.


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