Payback: Vandy romps past Bulldogs, 65-37

NASHVILLE-- Revenge was on the Commodores' minds on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gym, and revenge is what they got. The Commodores shook off a sluggish start to rout Georgia 65-37 and move back to .500 in Southeastern Conference play.

NASHVILLE-- Revenge was on the Commodores' minds on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gym, and revenge is what they got. The Commodores shook off a sluggish start to rout Georgia 65-37 and move back to .500 in Southeastern Conference play.

Corey Smith scored 15 points and had four assists, while Shan Foster and Dawid Prbyzyszewski had 10 points each.

"We played a little better against them this time than the last," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, who has beaten the Bulldogs four straight at Memorial. "I thought the key was our run to close the (first) half. That was the difference in the game."

Vanderbilt trailed 16-8 with under eight minutes to play in the first half and concerns of a repeat collapse against the undermanned Bulldogs swept through the crowd of 12,698. The Commodores were turning the ball over, missing shots and generally appeared to have no interest playing hoops on such a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

But the black and gold alarm clock finally went off, and Vanderbilt went on a 22-3 run to close the half. Foster capped the run with a three-pointer with two seconds left, and Vanderbilt retired to the locker room with a comfy 30-19 lead.


Georgia's Dave Bliss (44) shoots over Vanderbilt's Shan Foster (32) during the second half Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 65-37. At right is Vanderbilt's Corey Smith. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

"That run before the half was definitely the turning point, no doubt," said Jason Holwerda. "Our starters came out kind of slow, then the second string came in and really made the difference."

In the second half, Vanderbilt did not let the Bulldogs breathe as it charged out to a 50-25 lead in the first six minutes. The Commodores hit their first six shots of the half and never looked back. Jason Holwerda had the highlight play, dunking the ball over his head off an alley-oop feed from Smith. That pushed the lead to 60-33 with five minutes remaining, leaving only an Aubrey Hammond cameo on the docket (he missed his only field goal attempt).

A little over a month ago, Vanderbilt went down to Georgia and suffered the same fate as Charlie Daniels' devil. For those of you not up on your CDB, the Commodores "bowed their heads because they knew that they'd been beat." It has been an uphill battle in the SEC and NCAA Tournament ever since.

"You definitely know (the NCAA Tournament) is there," Smith said. "But you want to keep it in the back of your mind. We all know how important every game is and how important it is to come ready to play. But you can't worry about that. When you start worrying about future games and future plays, that has a negative effect on your game."

Vanderbilt shot a remarkable 67 percent in the second half and had 20 assists on 26 baskets for the game. At the other end of the floor, the Dores held Georgia to a season-low in points, forced 20 turnovers and held the Dawgs under 20 points each half. Summation? One team was much, much better than the other.

The Commodores have once again fought back to .500 in the SEC, but it may take more than that to be invited to the You Know What in 2005. With two games left, Vandy may need two wins and a respectable showing in Atlanta at the SEC Tournament.

Next up is South Carolina, Stallings' personal nemesis. The Gamecocks have fashioned a remarkable 5-0 record against Stallings in the old brick building off West End, and the Commodores know they can ill afford for that number to improve to 6-0.

"It's a just a big game," Stallings said. "It's a game we need to play well in. We had them on the ropes a little bit over there in the second half and didn't get it done. We'll have to put 40 minutes together instead of 30."

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Bill Trocchi is the interactive editor for Athlon Sports.


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