There’s more than one way to score three points at a time, a fact that John Jenkins made abundantly clear in the second half Friday.
The Vanderbilt freshman registered all but three of his career-high 25 points over the final 20 minutes – often three at a time.
There were the 3-point shots for which he’s already known (five of them). There was a set of three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point shot. There also was the ‘and-one,’ when he was fouled on a layup and made the ensuing foul shot.
He put points on the board in all three fashions during a stretch of just under eight minutes when a two-point lead turned into an 11-point cushion as the Commodores pulled away to a 78-64 victory over Georgia in the last of four Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinal games at Bridgestone Arena.
With the victory, the Commodores (24-7) advanced to the semifinals where they will face Mississippi State at 2:15 p.m. (CST) Saturday.
“The ‘and-one’ got me going,” Jenkins said. “I don’t get a lot of those and I definitely get hyped up when I do. … That definitely was the most confident I felt all year.”
The play that started Jenkins’ motor also provided the impetus for that second-half surge.
Georgia (14-17) closed to within two, 37-35, when it scored six of the first eight points after halftime and had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. Vanderbilt’s Andre Walker got the ball ahead to Jenkins, who converted as he was fouled.
Jenkins hit high gear a little more than five minutes later when he scored 12 straight points and turned a 47-42 lead into a 59-47 one.
“He’s not what I would call an unstoppable player,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “But if he’s left open he’s unstoppable. And if we can get him open he’s unstoppable because he’s going to make open shots.”
For the game, Jenkins was 7-for-10 from the field, including 5-for-8 on 3-pointers, and 6-for-6 on free throws.
And that was only the second-best offensive performance of the contest. Georgia’s Travis Leslie scored a career-high 34, the highest individual point total thus far in this year’s tournament and tied for eight all time in the event.
The sophomore forward accounted for more than half of his team’s total with a constant display of athleticism at or near the basket, which included five offensive rebounds and four steals (as many as Vanderbilt had as a team).
Despite all of that, the Commodores outrebounded the Bulldogs 43-32 overall, and 16-11 on the offensive end – a decided change from the two regular-season meetings between the teams.
“They really outrebounded us in the first half and that was significant – that had a significant impact on the ballgame,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We opened the second half with some competitive fight, got back into it but we just couldn’t. We played from behind all night. That’s just hard to do.
Particularly when the other team has someone scoring three points at a time.
“Coach was telling me to go out there and be more aggressive,” Jenkins said. “That’s what I did. The first half I came out kind of slow, trying to get myself in it. Second half, I just really let loose.”
Friday's other games at Bridgestone Arena