Men's College Basketball
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Vanderbilt holds off Harvard

Albuquerque, NM (Sports Network) - John Jenkins tallied 27 points to lead all scorers as Vanderbilt held off a late charge from Harvard to complete a 79-70 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's East Region on Thursday.

Brad Tinsley netted 16 points and Jeffery Taylor added 15 for fifth-seeded Vanderbilt (25-10), which advances to Saturday's third round where it will face Wisconsin after the Badgers rolled over Montana, 73-49 on Thursday.

"It's very meaningful for us," said Taylor, a senior, after the win. "We've had a lot of obstacles and hurdles we've had to clear throughout our time here at Vanderbilt. This one definitely means something to us. We're looking forward to a great game against Wisconsin on Saturday."

Vanderbilt had lost its first NCAA Tournament game each of the last two years and hadn't won an NCAA tourney game since 2007. Laurent Rivard scored 20 points, while Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry chipped in 13 and 12, respectively, for the Crimson (26-5), who made their first NCAA tourney appearance in 66 years.

The Commodores led by as many as 18 in the second half, but Festus Ezeli's dunk with 5:32 left marked the final field goal of the game for Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt led by 16 with 4:30 left, but Rivard sank back-to-back threes around an Ezeli free throw and Curry added a leaning jumper in the lane to trim the deficit to single digits, 68-59, for the first time since the first half.

The Crimson then got four straight from the line to pull within 70-65 with 1:51 remaining, but the Commodores went 9-of-10 from the charity stripe down the stretch to hold on for the victory.

"I was really impressed with the effort that our kids gave to make the game interesting toward the end," said Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker. "I can't say enough about the fight that we had and the effort that we put forth to stay relevant in this particular basketball game."

A back-and-forth first half found the teams knotted at 17 before Christian Weber hit a three-pointer to give Harvard a 20-17 edge with 5:32 left in the half.

Vanderbilt quickly answered with a three from Taylor, sparking a 16-3 surge from the Commodores to close out the half as they took a 33-23 lead into the locker room.

Vandy continued to streak in the second, as Jenkins opened the half with a four-point play after he was fouled on a three-point make to press the lead to 37-23.

Game Notes

Vanderbilt won the war on the glass, outrebounding the Crimson 35-22...Ezeli finished with eight points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks...The Commodores made 8-of-18 from three-point range, while Harvard finished 9-of-24 from long range.

03/15 20:49:11 ET