Mario is Magic as Vandy wins, 76-75

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mario Moore has made 357 field goals in his Vanderbilt career. None have been as memorable as last night's final shot.

Moore's buzzer-beating runner from 30 feet found nothing but net and Vanderbilt shocked Oregon 76-75 at a joyous Memorial Gym.

After the game, Moore said he had a dream the night before that he was going to win the game, but he admitted last night's reality was beyond even his own dream.

Moore had an opportunity to make his dream come true because Derrick Byars led a strong Vanderbilt rally in the second half on a night Shan Foster scored just five points. Byars had 20 points, five rebounds and seven assists, finally living up to his reputation as a take-charge offensive player he built in two years at Virginia.

"He put us on his back tonight," Moore said.

Byars hit a jumper with 1:17 to play to give Vanderbilt a 73-71 lead, but Oregon (4-1) answered with a follow bucket at the other end. After Foster missed on Vanderbilt's next possession, Aaron Brooks seemingly gave Oregon the win with a driving layup with 3.3 seconds left.

Trailing 75-73, Vanderbilt called timeout, then had DeMarre Carroll inbound the ball. Moore caught the in the backcourt, took three dribbles and let fly a high, arching shot as Memorial Gym held its collective breath. When the shot swished through, the old brick building exploded as it has countless times before, and the Commodores swarmed their senior leader.

"Three seconds means three dribbles," Moore said. "I heard their coach yell to double team, so I wanted to shoot it before the double team came. I didn't have a chance to set my feet. It felt good when I let it go."

The shot was redemption of sorts for Moore, who was suspended for the first two games of the season and has been coming off the bench since he returned. Moore tallied 13 of his 15 points in the second half, and coach Kevin Stallings said his good fortune at the end of the game was earned.

"The ball went in because his attitude has been fantastic," Stallings said. "If his attitude wasn't good, I believe with all my heart that the shot wouldn't have gone in."

But the shot did go in, and Vanderbilt moved to 5-0 with spiffy, NCAA Tournament resume-building wins over Georgetown and Oregon. Another awaits in Cincinnati, but for now, the Commodores will be content to bask in another magical moment from Memorial.

"Memorial Magic lives on," Moore said.

Vanderbilt trailed by as many as 11 in the second half and was still behind 53-43 with 11:54 left before a 17-5 run gave VU a two-point lead with 6:15 to play. From there, it was back and forth until the buzzer. Oregon was using Malik Hairston (25 points, 10 rebounds), Bryce Taylor (13 points) and Brooks (15) to keep pace with Byers, Moore and Ted Skuchas, who had eight second half points. The Dores shot 76 percent in the second half.

In the end, Vanderbilt's 27-game non-conference home winning streak became 28 by the thinnest of margins, and the Commodores stand 5-0 with 10 days to prepare for the next game.

"Fortunately, we survived," Stallings said. "We have had five games in 12 days. That means very little practice time. I am thankful we have a break to work on things."


Vanderbilt's Mario Moore (1) celebrates with fans after the game against Oregon, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2005, in Nashville, Tenn. Moore hit a running 3-pointer from 30 feet at the buzzer as Vanderbilt defeated Oregon 76-75. Moore scored 15 points, including 13 in the second half. (AP Photo/Neil Brake)

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