NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Vanderbilt Commodores are so short-handed right now they have no room for error. Hitting a season-high 12 3-pointers helps.
Rod Odom scored a career-high 24 points, hitting six 3-pointers, and the Commodores beat Missouri 78-75 on Thursday night in the Tigers' first visit to Memorial Gym as a member of the Southeastern Conference.
"That 3-point shot is a great equalizer," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.
Vanderbilt (9-6, 1-2 SEC) snapped a two-game skid by avoiding foul trouble and hitting those dozen 3-pointers. The Commodores are down to seven scholarship players after leading scorer Eric McClellan first was suspended from the university, then kicked off the team for good last week. They lost their first two games without McClellan and desperately needed a league win with three of the next four on the road.
"I'm really extremely proud of our team and just really, really proud of them because they had to dig in deep against a very good team to get this victory and they did," Stallings said. "And I'm very happy for them."
Missouri (13-3, 1-2 SEC) now has lost two of three. The Tigers were looking for their third road win this season, trying to work their way back into the Top 25. Coach Frank Haith kept thinking after the game of a handful of easy layups his Tigers missed that could have been the difference.
"I think what really hurt us we missed at least seven chippies around the hoop," Haith said.
Kyle Fuller added 22 points for Vanderbilt. Dai-Jon Parker had 11, and Damian Jones added 10. Odom, Fuller and Parker all played 40 minutes.
"For me personally, playing 40 minutes is always OK," Odom said. "That's why you come to college is to play. We both have a great opportunity to play more than anybody could imagine."
Fuller laughed when asked if knowing Stallings has little option but to keep the senior guard on the floor. He had five assists with three turnovers. Fuller said he'll play as long as Stallings needs him to play.
"I'm just thankful we came out with a win today," Fuller said.
Jabari Brown scored 22 points for Missouri, while Jordan Clarkson had 18 and Ross 11.
The Tigers opened the second half by scoring the first eight points in taking their first lead since the opening bucket on a layup by Williams at 40-39. The teams swapped the lead back and forth before Fuller finished off a fast-break with a layup for Vanderbilt putting the Commodores back ahead 45-44 with 13:30 to go. That started a 10-2 spurt featuring a pair of 3s from Odom, the second giving Vandy a 53-46 lead with 10:52 remaining.
Misssouri pulled within 60-57 on a jumper by Brown with 4:17 left. First Fuller hit a 3-pointer, then Odom added his sixth 3 to push the lead to 66-59 with 2:00 left. The Tigers couldn't get closer than the final score on a 3-pointer by Clarkson with 2 seconds left as Vanderbilt went 6-of-7 at the free throw line in the final 40 seconds with Fuller hitting all six of attempts at the line to seal the win.
These are two of the SEC's best shooting teams and the league's best defending against the 3-pointer with Vanderbilt (27.8 percent) just ahead of Missouri (28.6 percent). The Commodores shredded Missouri's defense as they knocked down 3 after 3 and finished 12-of-32 (37.5 percent) - both season-highs allowed by the Tigers. That more than made up for Missouri outrebounding Vanderbilt 45-35 and the Tigers' 36-16 scoring edge in the paint.
Haith said they knew Vanderbilt is a good 3-point shooting team and were well aware of how well Parker and Odom can hit from outside.
"They made them," Haith said. "They shot them and made them. You've got to give them credit. They made some tough ones too."
Missouri opened the game with a 3 by Brown for the Tigers' biggest lead of the game.
Then Vanderbilt went on a 17-2 run started by a 3-pointer from Odom and Parker. Missouri countered with its own 14-4 run to get close. But the Commodores led 39-32 at halftime because they shot better from beyond the arc than they did inside as they hit eight of their first 16 3-pointers.