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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Junior forward Luke Kornet reminded everyone why the Vanderbilt Commodores missed him so much when he missed five games with a torn left MCL.
Kornet blocked a school-record 10 shots and finished with the second triple-double in Vanderbilt history with 11 points and 11 rebounds Tuesday night, helping the Commodores snap a three-game skid to start Southeastern Conference play beating Auburn 75-57.
"Obviously, Luke's presence around the goal was critical," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "People wondered what I was talking about when he was out and I said we had something that was missing. And there was a little glimpse of it tonight of what he can do."
This was just Kornet's third game back, and this performance came about the time the 7-foot-1 junior had been expected back. He played 37 minutes, finally getting the triple-double with 39 seconds left after missing three free throws inside the final minute.
"It's definitely something I take a little pride in," Kornet said. "But (what) I'm really excited about, we finally got a win. I just want this season to be something special."
The Commodores (9-7, 1-3) had been the SEC's only team with three losses and came in having lost seven of their last 10 since opening the season with five straight victories. They also were coming off their worst shooting performance this season in a loss last weekend at South Carolina.
Vanderbilt shook that off with an impressive performance, knocking down 14 of its first 18 shots, including the first six 3-pointers. The Commodores both outshot Auburn (55.3 percent to 32.8 percent) and outrebounded the Tigers (45-35).
Wade Baldwin IV scored 17 points and tied his career-high with 10 assists. He just missed a triple-double with seven rebounds.
"Luke beat me to it," Baldwin said.
Jeff Roberson added 14 points for Vanderbilt, and Riley LaChance had 13.
"We're pleased to get this win and kind of get off the schneid," Stallings said.
Auburn (7-8, 1-3) lost its third straight. Kareem Canty had a team-high 16 points, and Cinmeon Bowers added 13 and 10 rebounds.
Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said this was probably the first time he's brought a team into Memorial Gym and didn't press all 40 minutes. He also said Vanderbilt fans should relax with the Commodores playing one of the toughest schedules in college basketball.
"Kornet makes a difference for them obviously and not having him for that stretch I think was definitely a factor," Pearl said.
Pearl's short-handed Tigers just couldn't keep up with Vanderbilt's shooting, instead going scoreless for stretches. Vanderbilt strung together run after run, including a 19-4 stretch that padded the Commodores' lead to 17 for the first time with 6:05 left on a 3-pointer by LaChance.
Vanderbilt led 39-22 at halftime and pushed the lead to as much as 23 points in the second half.
Auburn: Pearl now is 8-6 all-time against Vanderbilt and 3-5 in Memorial Gym. ... The Tigers came in first in the SEC making 9.9 3-pointers per game. They hit 4 of 22.
Vanderbilt: Kornet matched the school record with seven blocks in the first half. Brad Tinsley had the other triple-double Nov. 12, 2010, against Presbyterian. ... The Commodores were without guard/forward Matthew Fisher-Davis. Stallings said the MRI exam on Fisher-Davis' left foot was negative but he won't play until the paint disappears. ... Baldwin had nine of his assists in the first half.
RING IT UP: The Commodores handed out rings to the baseball team that lost the College World Series last June to Virginia. They went 51-21 last season and are ranked No. 3 by D1Baseball.com for the season that starts next month.
Auburn: Hosts No. 14 Kentucky on Saturday.
Vanderbilt: Hosts Alabama on Saturday.
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