Vanderbilt entered Thursday night having lost 13 straight games against ranked opponents.
The streak wouldn’t reach 14.
Yes, Vanderbilt knocked off No. 8 Texas A&M, 77-60, to notch its first win over a ranked team in four years. In fact, the the Commodores’ last win over a ranked team came in 2012, when they upset No. 1 Kentucky in the SEC Championship.
Sophomore forward Jeff Roberson scored a career-high 20 points to lead Vanderbilt (13-9, 5-4) to victory on Thursday.
“We kind of started off and got some good momentum at the beginning and carried that on throughout the game,” Roberson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Once the crowd got into it, it was like they were facing multiple opponents.”
Vanderbilt shot 50.8 percent from the floor and was 13-of-29 (44.8 percent) from three-point range. Four starters finished in double figures, including sophomore guard Wade Baldwin IV, who who had 17 points, eight assists and just one turnover.
“Wade’s running the show,” Roberson said. “He gets us all going. He got a lot of us open shots, people were there to knock them down and we were very well-balanced. We try to keep the ball moving and not take any selfish shots, and I think we did a great job of that tonight.”
Junior center Damian Jones, meanwhile, was a man down low. He finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
“Damian is a monster,” Roberson said. “He’s really been stepping up for us the second half of the season. When he’s playing like that, we can definitely hang around with anybody in the country.”
Vanderbilt limited A&M to 36.8 percent shooting from the floor, won the rebounding battle (38-31) and finished with more assists (19-11).
“If you can defend and rebound and block shots and be unselfish on offense and take good shots and make good shots, you can beat pretty much anybody,” Roberson said. “It’s just a matter of being consistent and staying focused and we did a great job defensively. That helped us get out and helped us play offensively as well.”
The Commodores had lost several close games against ranked opponents before beating the Aggies. Six of their nine losses have come by eight points or fewer. Four have come by five points or fewer.
Thus, a double-digit win over a top-10 team was just what the doctor ordered.
“It’s a huge statement for us,” Roberson said. “It’s something we’ve been working towards. We know we haven’t played well in the middle of the season and we talked about just starting over. It’s a new month in February. That’s kind of when we got things going last year, so we felt like there’s no reason why we couldn’t do it again this year. We started off the right way tonight.”