Vanderbilt shook off another slow start and matched its longest winning streak of the season.
The Commodores overcame early shooting woes to edge Auburn 62-55 on the road Saturday night for their third straight win and fifth in seven games.
Despite shooting 32.7 percent from the field, Vanderbilt used a late burst in the first half and 10 3-pointers to put away the Tigers.
The Commodores made just two baskets in the opening eight minutes but trailed just 12-5. It was reminiscent of Wednesday they missed their first nine shots against Georgia.
Similarly poor shooting from Auburn – the Tigers (9-20, 3-13) made just 35.2 percent – allowed the Commodores (13-15, 7-9 Southeastern Conference) to stick around. Auburn, though, went without a field goal for the last 9:52 of the half.
Kevin Bright finally catapulted Vanderbilt in front when he made his first of two straight 3-pointers and sparked a 9-0 spurt in the last 1:40. Then Rod Odom came over the top to block a shot by Chris Denson. Kyle Fuller grabbed the rebound, raced down the court, banked in a layup and got fouled. He made the free throw with 48 seconds left for a 26-17 halftime lead.
The Commodores pushed the lead to 14 early in the second half before Auburn finally ended the lengthy drought from the field with 16:13 left. The deficit narrowed to 40-36 but Bright bookended a 7-0 run with two 3-pointers.
Auburn failed to get closer than six points after that as Vanderbilt iced the win by making 13 of 15 free throws in the last 5:11. Even with that final stretch, the Commodores made just 20 of 31 free throws (64.5 percent).
Vanderbilt point guard Kedren Johnson tied Auburn’s Chris Denson with a game-high 16 points. Johnson added eight assists and was 10-of-15 at the foul line. Bright scored 14 points, made four 3-pointers and grabbed eight rebounds. Josh Henderson had 11 points.
With two regular-season games left, Vanderbilt is tied for 10th place with Texas A&M. The Commodores are hoping to finish no lower than 10th to avoid being one of four teams to play on the first day of the Southeastern Conference tournament, which begins March 13 at Bridgestone Arena.