In a game Ole Miss had to have for its postseason resume, Taylor squandered all hopes early, opening the game with 18 points on 7 of 7 shooting, as Vanderbilt built a lead it would never relinquish.
“Honestly, I felt sympathy for them because things were going so well,” Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said.
Ole Miss had no answer on either end of the floor, ultimately fading into the night with a 102-76 blowout loss. Ole Miss dropped to 15-10 overall and 5-6 in Southeastern Conference games. Vanderbilt improved to 18-8 (6-4 SEC).
“It was pretty bad from my vantage point,” Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. “They were just quicker all across the board. Shot incredibly. We let them get into an unbelievable rhythm. Jeffrey Taylor set the tone.”
“It was ridiculous. But everyone got on a roll,” Taylor, who finished with a team-high 28 points, said. “When we get on a roll we're hard to defend. It was tough for them because this would have been a signature win. They're definitely better than what they showed tonight.”
Vanderbilt torched Ole Miss in the decisive first half, making 10 of its 12 3-point tries. Taylor was the pace-setter. He had 23 points on 8 of 10 shooting. He was perfect, 5 of 5, from 3, a career high. With less than seven minutes left in the first half, Taylor alone trailed Ole Miss, 21-20.
“It was an avalanche offensively,” Kennedy said of Vanderbilt. “We didn’t help ourselves. Same old song and dance, we miss a bunch of shots that we need to make. When a team is hitting you with a barrage like Vandy hit us with, the only way to feasibly stay around if you cannot get stops is to continue to score and stay within range.”
Ole Miss was within one, 22-21, at the 7:02 mark in the first half. However, Vanderbilt reeled off a 31-7 run to end the frame.
“I thought we came into the game ready to play,” forward Terrance Henry, who had nine points and three blocks, said. “Everybody seemed like they were ready to play. We didn’t start off bad. They were clicking on all cylinders tonight.”
With Ole Miss falling apart, the atmosphere inside Tad Smith Coliseum turned ugly. After Taylor hit his fifth 3 of the first half, a student threw a cup onto the floor, splattering ice across the court. Play was stopped and the student was apprehended by security.
All the while, boos poured down, making an already ugly scene even uglier.
Vanderbilt topped 100 points for the first time since 2006. Following Taylor was Jenkins with 26 points. The next-closest scorer was Festus Ezeli with 13 points. Taylor also had a team-leading nine rebounds.
“I never sensed this. We caught them on a great night,” Stallings said. “We just got off to a good start and it snowballed from there.”
Ole Miss had three players score in double-digit points. Jarvis Summers had 14 points and five assists. Murphy Holloway followed with 13 points and six rebounds, while Nick Williams added 10 points.
Ole Miss shot 40 percent (29-72) for the game, including 5 of 16 from 3, good for 31 percent. Vanderbilt was 30 of 48 (63 percent) and 12 of 19 from 3 (63 percent).
Ole Miss returns to action Saturday at No. 1 Kentucky.
“The reality is we have to get on a plane tomorrow and fly to Lexington to play the No. 1 team in the country,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got to quickly try to put this behind us the best way we can.”