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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt stuns No. 6 Tennessee on Tyrin Lawrence buzzer-beater, beats first top-10 opponent since 2016

Tyrin Lawrence hit a corner three to shock the No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers and defeat the Commodores’ in-state rivals for the first time since 2018.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt battled Tennessee on Wednesday February 8, 2023 at Memorial Gymnasium (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Liam Robbins won the opening tip to kick off the 205th meeting between in-state rivals Vanderbilt (12-12, 5-6) and Tennessee (19-5, 8-3) on Wednesday evening at Memorial Gymnasium in what turned out to be an all-time classic. After a back-and-forth battle all night, Tyrin Lawrence nailed a corner three at the buzzer to give Vanderbilt a 66-65 win over Tennessee leading to a court storm from the student section.

“Unbelievable night,” Jerry Stackhouse said after the monumental win. “We finally experienced the Memorial Magic we were looking for.”

The victory marks the first top-10 win for the Commodores since February 2016 and first win over the Volunteers since 2018 and the first of the Stackhouse era.

“It means a lot,” Jordan Wright said after the win. “For Tyrin to hit a shot like that, it’s unbelievable. For the students to come out there like that, it was amazing for us. It’s something that you dream about.”

Vanderbilt got out to a hot start behind some hot three-point shooting from Robbins, who cashed two early deep balls to help the Commodores earn an early 8-4 lead just under 4 minutes into the game. Santiago Vescovi countered for the Volunteers with a three-ball of his own to bring the Vanderbilt lead to just one, 8-7, before the game’s first media timeout.

A Tyreke Key jumper gave the Vols their first lead of the game, which they would hold for most of the first half. The two squads traded buckets back-and-forth over the next few minutes in a lively opening 10 minutes with Tennessee holding a slight 18-16 lead after a Tyrin Lawrence three-point make at the 11:18 mark. Lawrence scored on a thunderous dunk off an alley-oop pass from Ezra Manjon to knot the scoring at 20 apiece one play later.

The Volunteers responded with an alley-oop to retake the lead, 20-18. Vescovi drained another three-pointer to give the Vols a 23-18 lead before back-to-back deep balls from Robbins and Colin Smith saw the Commodores pull back in front, 24-23.

The sides traded buckets until another Key three-pointer produced a tie at 30 with 2:32 to play in the first half. The Vols scored the next four points to take a four-point lead, but a Robbins dunk brought Vanderbilt back within two points heading into the locker rooms.

After the break, the Commodores made quick work of erasing the measly 34-32 halftime deficit opening the second frame on a 7-2 run to take a 39-36 lead. The Volunteers countered with a quick 8-0 run of their own as they began to impose their will on the glass and in the paint over the Commodores and retake a 44-39 lead.

Once again, Vanderbilt responded with a punch of its own. Behind Lawrence and Jordan Wright, the Commodores took a 12-6 run to build a 51-50 advantage. Wright hit a jumper and a three-pointer on back-to-back possessions and Trey Thomas added a long ball as well. Wright and Lawrence both converted layups at the rim to give Vanderbilt the one-point lead.

Vanderbilt battled Tennessee on Wednesday February 8, 2023 at Memorial Gymnasium (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila).
Vanderbilt battled Tennessee on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, at Memorial Gymnasium. (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila)

Quentin Millora-Brown extended that lead to two after converting one-of-two free throws to give Vanderbilt a 52-50 advantage at the 10:04 mark. A 5-2 stall over the next three minutes earned Tennessee a 55-54 lead with 7:24 left to play.

Another Wright triple regained the lead for Vanderbilt before a Robbins block on the other end ignited a hungry Memorial Gymnasium crowd. Robbins split a pair of free throws to give the Commodores a 58-55 lead that lasted nearly two minutes.

After Vanderbilt switched to a 3-2 zone, Vescovi once again made them pay by cashing a three from deep to tie the game back up for the Volunteers at 58 apiece. Wright came racing down the other end to put Vanderbilt back up 60-58, but another Vescovi drew the contest level once again with 3:31 left to play.

Both sides tightened up defensively until a foul on a Colin Smith three-point attempt sent the freshmen to the line. Smith nailed all three of his chances to break the deadlock and give Vanderbilt a 63-60 lead with just over two minutes to play. Again, Vescovi answered for the Volunteers with a three of his own after a Robbins block to make it 63-63.

An Olivier Nkamhoua jumper from the key connected to give Tennessee a 65-63 lead after a Vanderbilt turnover. The Commodores turned to Robbins for a low post look on the ensuing possession, but his hook shot missed. Vanderbilt failed to corral the redirected rebound from Smith as a jumping Ezra Manjon threw the ball through Lawrence’s hands and into Zakai Ziegler’s awaiting arms.

A series of inbounds passes and subsequent fouls to get Vanderbilt up to seven team fouls lasted 20 seconds before Vescovi missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity.

What happened next will live in Vanderbilt glory for years.

After Manjon raced across half court and called a timeout, the Commodores huddled around Stackhouse waiting for a play to be drawn up.

“I got that one from Dwayne Casey [former Raptors head coach] when I was in Toronto,” Stackhouse said of the eventual game-winning play design. “It’s basically; you get a downhill guy, start him in the backcourt with the most speed and send some shooters to the corners.”

Vanderbilt dumped the ball to Robbins who handed it off to a driving Manjon who sprinted toward the rim. As the Tennessee defense collapsed on Manjon, the point guard jumped, hung in the air and fired off a pass to a wide-open Tyrin Lawrence in the corner. Lawrence collected the ball, gathered — seemingly taking in a breath in the biggest moment of his career — and nailed a three-pointer for the buzzer-beater win, 66-65.

“It felt great,” Lawrence said on the buzzer-beater. “That’s stuff we dream about as kids — in the backyard, counting down from 3, 2, 1. Glad I was able to hit a game-winner; it’s something I’ll never forget.”

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About the Contributors
Bryce Smith
Bryce Smith, Former Sports Editor
Bryce Smith ('23) is majoring in human and organizational development in Peabody College with a minor in business. Bryce previously wrote for SBNation before joining The Hustler. Hailing from Chicago, Bryce is a die-hard Bears and Cubs fan who is also hoping that the Bulls and Blackhawks may one day rekindle their dominance. He can be reached at [email protected].    
Nikita Rohila
Nikita Rohila, Senior Staff Photographer
Nikita Rohila ('25) is from a small town in Arkansas and is majoring in psychology and medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Deputy Social Media Director. During her free time, she enjoys roaming around the city and getting cinematic-style shots for her photography account! You can reach her at [email protected].
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Happy Vandy Senior
1 year ago

Always good to beat the Vols!