Vandy thwarts Marquette's upset quest on Andre Walker's late layup

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt forward Jeff Taylor isn't sure if Darius Johnson-Odom slipped or tripped trying to drive to the basket at the end of the game.

He is very, very glad a foul wasn't called.

Andre Walker scored on a layup with 4.1 seconds left, and Vanderbilt (No. 24 AP) held off Marquette 77-76 Wednesday night in its first game since moving into the Top 25 this season.

Marquette (9-4) had the ball last. But Johnson-Odom tripped trying to drive to the basket, losing the ball at the buzzer.

"I think he just stumbled or stepped on somebody's foot toward the end," Taylor said. "I think my heart almost stopped because I think they were going to call a foul. I thought we were really lucky a foul wasn't called, and we're just happy to get the win and that he fell."

Marquette coach Buzz Williams wasn't sure what exactly happened. Remember, coaches and teams sit on the end lines at Memorial Gym. Williams thought Dwight Buycks' jumper that put the Golden Eagles up 76-75 with 19.5 seconds left was a 3 instead of a regular bucket.

"Whatever it was, obviously you'd like to get a shot off," Williams said.

Jimmy Butler thought his teammate was tripped and felt he was fouled.

"We're on the road, we can't expect that. The refs didn't call it so it wasn't a foul," Butler said.

The Commodores (10-2) improved to 102-8 in non-conference play at home under coach Kevin Stallings despite leading scorer John Jenkins going 2-of-15 from 3-point range. He finished with 13 points. Taylor had a team-high 19 points, Brad Tinsley added 15, Festus Ezeli had 12 and Steve Tchiengang 10.

Stallings wasn't worried about Jenkins continuing to shoot away.

"I watch him shoot every day. Every time he shoots it I think it's going in. So do all the people in the stands. He's trained us to think that way," Stallings said.

Butler led Marquette with 15 points. Johnson-Odom finished with 14, Buycks 13, Chris Otule 12 and Vander Blue 10.

This was only the fifth meeting between these programs and the first since 1974 when Marquette beat the Commodores in the NCAA tournament. The Golden Eagles were using the Southeastern Conference team and a hostile environment for a final tuneup before starting Big East play on Saturday morning hosting West Virginia.

Vanderbilt also was a man down with Lance Goulbourne sitting out the second of a two-game suspension by the NCAA for buying campus parking pass through a senior who worked as a manager for the team at the time.

Marquette had its chances, leading 37-34 at halftime and 47-40 three minutes into the second half on a dunk by Otule.

But Tchiengang answered with a 3 for Vanderbilt and ran back downcourt waving his hand at the crowd urging fans to their feet because he wanted to win on his birthday. That got the Commodores going, and Taylor, who hadn't scored since 8:19 left in the first half, dunked with 14:46 to go. He hit a 3-pointer with 13:05 that capped a 15-2 spurt for a 55-49 lead.

Jenkins, who missed his first nine 3-pointers, finally made his 10th to get the crowd back up. He also drew a foul on Johnson-Odom and finished off the four-point play for a 59-53 lead with 12:15 left.

Marquette wouldn't go away and pulled within a point three times before Buycks' long jumper gave the Golden Eagles that last lead. Tinsley found Walker in the lane for the bucket to cap his return after missing four games with mononeucleosis, and that set up the final scramble.

"We're looking forward to getting back to full strength," Stallings said.

Tinsley said Walker had worked hard to return for the Commodores.

"I saw Dre wide open, and he made a great play," said Tinsley, who had eight assists and one turnover.

Vanderbilt led by as much as 11 in the opening minutes with Taylor scoring early and often with some easy dunks. But Marquette finally got Butler, the Golden Eagles' leading scorer going. Ezeli's jumper made it 29-20 Vanderbilt with 5:28 left when the Golden Eagles answered with an 11-2 spurt during which Butler hit a 3. His jumper tied it at 31 with 2:35 left.

The teams swapped the lead three times, and Johnson-Odom finished off the half with a layup, a 3 from the top of the key and then a free throw in the final 1:53 to put Marquette up 37-34 at halftime.