Vanderbilt snapped an 11-game losing streak to in-state rival Tennessee in thrilling fashion, downing the No. 6 team in the nation with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win 66-65.
The final seconds of the game lasted minutes. Down two points with under 30 seconds remaining, Vanderbilt had only two team fouls. The Commodores had to foul Tennessee five times in the final 15 seconds to give themselves an opportunity to get the ball back, which they did on the rebound after Volunteers guard Santiago Vescovi missed the front end of a one-and-one.
After advancing the ball and calling timeout, Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse had four seconds on the clock to draw up a play. The goal was to get downhill and make a play, and a drive down the lane was kicked out to a wide-open Tyrin Lawrence in the corner. Lawrence buried the shot right as the final horn sounded, sending the home crowd into a frenzy for a court-storming celebration.
NAILS. 😤@VandyMBB x #SECMBB pic.twitter.com/dhkiJN9zgt— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) February 9, 2023
Lawrence finished with a game-high 19 points, going 8 for 12 from the field and hitting on three of his four attempts from the behind the arc, none more important than the streak-snapping, game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Given the result, Tennessee will look back at the opportunity it had to convert on a wide-open basket with about 20 seconds remaining, choosing instead to pull the ball out and draw yet another foul. At the time, the opportunity to run the clock and get closer to free throws seemed less significant. That changed after Vanderbilt got an opportunity to win down just two points, rather than four.
The first win for the program against Tennessee since Feb. 2017 also marks the first win against the Vols for Stackhouse, who took over as head coach prior to the 2019-20 season. In his three previous seasons, Stackhouse has steadily improved the team's winning percentage in conference play, and just last year he led the Commodores to an appearance in the NIT quarterfinals. This win against a top-10 opponent and rival is yet another step forward in Vanderbilt's efforts to improve the program's standing in the SEC.
As for Tennessee, the loss to an opponent that entered the night ranking outside of the top-100 in the NET is going to hurt the team's NCAA Tournament seeding. CBS Sports' Jerry Palm had the Vols as a No. 2 seed in his most recent Bracketology update.