ATLANTA - A Vanderbilt beat writer gave Commodores superstar and SEC MVP Shan Foster an out after the University of Arkansas' 81-75 win at the SEC Tournament.
But Foster, who had 14 points while going just 4-of-10 from the field, wasn't biting when asked about an injury that occurred as his 18th-ranked team was losing its fifth straight game to the Razorbacks.
"Well, I did roll my ankle there a little bit, but that's no excuse for me not playing the way my team needed me to play today," Foster said. "I felt like I let the team down defensively and on the boards. They did a good job of staying close to me and not allowing me to get free on shots, but like (Vanderbilt head) Coach (Kevin Stallings) said, it really came down to defense and rebounding."
Indeed Arkansas limited Foster and Vandy freshman post A.J. Ogivly to a combined 28 points on Friday after the pair had combined for 53 in opening round play on Thursday for the Commodores (26-7).
UA senior Sonny Weems, the team's leading scorer on the season, was just 1-of-9 from the field and had 3 points, but his defense shined through on Foster.
"Weems is a good defender and he's got good size and good strength," Stallings said. "So he just he had a lot of help. I think that they were he had a lot of help, and again, their presence at the basket makes everything more difficult. Their athleticism at the goal is one of the deceiving parts about their defense because it's not as easy to get things right at the basket as it is against a lot of teams.
You know, I mean, they did a good job on him," Stallings added. "I don't think we can expect Shan Foster to what did he have, 25 over in Fayetteville? I don't think we can expect him to be superman every night. He is most nights, but he can't be superman every night."
The Razorbacks overpowered the Commodores in the paint 50-20 and outrebounded them 45-23.
"Well, we just got beaten badly on the boards, and we gave them way too many second opportunities and third opportunities and fourth opportunities," Stallings said. "So that was the difference in the game. They just pounded us on the boards, which is disappointing, and our offense isn't good enough to recover, or cover, for when they get more of their misses than we do. That's a total breakdown on our part, but they played better than we did, and that's the story of the game.
Alex Gordon led the way for Vanderbilt with 22 points as his team was eliminated for the second straight year in the SEC quarterfinals by Arkansas.
"We've obviously got some work to do as far as like our defense, like our Coach said, but we're not going to lose any confidence. At the end of the day, it's basketball. We've just got to keep the confidence no matter what. We're a good team, we've just got to go to the drawing board and come up with the game plan that Coach gives us."
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