Jones scores 21, leads Vanderbilt past Wofford, 80-56
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings gave his star center simple instructions: Try to score every time you get the ball.
Damian Jones got the message.
The 7-foot junior, projected as an first-round NBA draft pick, scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds, leading the Commodores to an 80-56 win over Wofford on Saturday night.
''Earlier in the week I said something to him about literally thinking about scoring every time he got the ball,'' Stallings said. ''In our three losses, he actually has more assists than (point guard Wade) Baldwin has and that's probably why we have three losses.''
Jones scored 14 points in the first half, the most by a Commodore this season. He hit 7 of 13 from the floor and 7 of 10 from the foul line.
''(Coach) told me at practice just to be more aggressive scoring, so I just kept that in mind,'' said Jones, who also blocked four shots.
Wofford coach Mike Young said there wasn't much his team could do to contain Jones.
''I'd like to have him. He'd make me a better coach,'' Young said. ''I'd throw him that ball every time down the floor. I was so impressed with his hands and his feet.''
Jeff Roberson added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Commodores (7-3), who outrebounded the Terriers 43-30.
Vanderbilt's Matthew Fisher-Davis scored 10 points, including three 3-pointers, and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds.
Fisher-Davis helped fill the void left by Luke Kornet, a 7-foot-1 forward who is out four to six weeks with an MCL tear in his left knee. Kornet is the team's best defender, the Southeastern Conference's leading shot blocker (2.75 bpg) and was one of the nation's top 3-point shooters among big men last season (40 percent).
''With Luke being out, there's a lot more rebounds to be had,'' Fisher-Davis said. ''He was a great rebounder, but the ball was just kind of coming my way. Everybody else was doing a great job boxing out and I'm just the one that ends up with it.''
Baldwin added 10 points for the Commodores, who played their first game in 10 days after finishing first semester final exams.
Spencer Collins scored 13 points and Justin Gordon added another 11 as Wofford (3-7) shot just 34.4 percent from the floor in losing their third straight.
Vanderbilt broke a tie game with a 14-3 run capped by Jones' three-point play to take a 23-12 lead with 6:17 left in the first half and made a 10-0 run capped by Fisher-Davis' 3-pointer, building their lead to 35-19 with 52 seconds left in the half.
Vanderbilt hit six of its first eight shots from beyond the 3-point arc while Wofford shot 22.6 percent from the floor in the first half, including a 3 of 22 showing from 2-point range.
The Terriers never got closer than 10 in the second half.
Vanderbilt fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 rankings for the first time this season Monday after consecutive losses to No. 16 Baylor and Dayton.
The Commodores began the preseason ranked 18th and moved as high as 16 after a 70-63 loss to Kansas in the Maui Invitational championship on Nov. 25.
Wofford: The Terriers fell to 2-43 against SEC with their last win coming in 2009 against South Carolina. It was the Terriers' seventh consecutive loss to an SEC team.
Vanderbilt: Stallings gave his defense mixed reviews. ''I thought we did a very good job of defending them inside the 3-point line,'' Stallings said. ''Outside the 3-point line, which was our main concern because they're a very good 3-point shooting team, I don't know that we did as well, but we defended and rebounded.'' Wofford made 8 of 21 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Wofford visits Austin Peay on Tuesday.
Vanderbilt visits No. 9 Purdue on Tuesday.
RETURNING TO ALMA MATER
Commodores coach Kevin Stallings played at Purdue from 1980-82 when the Boilermakers went to one NCAA Final Four and two NIT Final Fours. He began his coaching career as a Purdue assistant from 1984-88. ''I'm so old I don't remember when I played there,'' Stallings kidded. ''I had a team play there when I was at Illinois State, so I've kind of been through that already. Coach (Gene) Keady is gone. He's my emotional tie to Purdue University, so this is just another game for me. I didn't have a whole lot to do with that Final Four banner, truth be told.''