Vanderbilt returned the favor and exorcised some demons in the process.
After an embarrassing loss to Arkansas last month, the Commodores got revenge, snapped a four-game losing streak and finally held onto a big lead in a 67-49 victory over the Razorbacks on Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium.
Junior forward Rod Odom led all scorers with 15 points as Vanderbilt won for the first time since Jan. 23. The Commodores limited Arkansas to season-lows in points and field-goal percentage (30.8). These were the same Razorbacks who upset No. 2 Florida on Tuesday and whipped Vanderbilt 56-33 on Jan. 12.
“We definitely feel it is great to get things turned around,” Odom said. “How we performed at Arkansas gave us motivation to play harder and try to take it to them like they took it to us.”
Vanderbilt (9-13, 3-7 Southeastern Conference) never trailed after the first seven minutes, led by 15 twice in the first half and produced its largest halftime lead, 35-24, in SEC play.
An unwanted sense of déjà vu crept into the minds of 10,886 at Memorial Gymnasium when Arkansas pulled within five, 43-38, with 11:45 left. The Commodores had blown double-digit leads to Ole Miss and Alabama and had lost their last three SEC games by six points.
This time, however, they didn’t buckle.
After two free throws by Odom, Josh Henderson sandwiched four straight points around his career-high third block. He tipped in his own miss to give Vanderbilt an 11-point lead. Kedren Johnson capped off a 9-0 run with a 3-pointer for a 52-38 advantage with 6:46 to go.
In the last 11:45, Arkansas (14-9, 5-5) scored just 11 points and made only three baskets.
“I thought our response was fantastic. I hope it is a step in the right direction,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “At some point, human nature or common sense says their confidence is going to waver if they don't win. They’re going to lose faith, lose hope, lose confidence, lose trust, lose something, so you need something good to happen. They haven’t shown any signs of that ... and I applaud them for that.”
Henderson came off the bench to score 11 points, grab four rebounds and block three shots as Stallings changed the starting lineup for the fifth straight game. Freshman guard/forward Sheldon Jeter scored 13 points – all in the first half – as he started for just the sixth time.
Mardracus Wade scored 13 points for led Arkansas, which is 14-1 at home but 0-6 on the road. Marshawn Powell, the team’s second-leading scorer, had just five points. He fouled out and played only 17 minutes after picking up his third foul midway through the first half.