Vanderbilt holds off Rice, 74-69

HOUSTON-- Vanderbilt raced out to a 45-27 halftime lead and then withstood a furious second half Rice rally to win its tenth game of the season, 74-69. The victory was Vanderbilt's ninth in the last 10 games after a 1-3 start. Vanderbilt's Shan Foster scored 29 points, including 26 points in the first half.

Vanderbilt opened the game with an 18-0 run and built a 22-point lead with 5:02 remaining in the half on a George Drake jumper.

In the second half Rice, behind Morris Almond who scored 44 points, mounted an intensive comeback. After Derrick Byars fouled out with 7:59 remaining, the Owls proceeded to methodically chip away at the Vandy lead.

An Almond 3-point shot cut the Vandy lead to 65-56 with 4:17 remaining. Another Almond 3-pointer lowered the lead to 7 with 2:34 left. The incredible Almond then scored a basket with 10 seconds remaining to cut the Commodore lead to just 3 at 72-69. Dan Cage, who made 6 of 8 free throws in the last minute, calmly sank 2 free throws with 3 seconds remaining to guarantee the Vanderbilt win. Cage finished with 13 points for the game.

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings took some of the blame for the Rice rally, "We just called a couple of bad plays with bad lineups in. We just didn't do well for them in the second half and they won in despite of us," said a relieved coach.

Other scorers for Vanderbilt included Alex Gordon 8; Jermaine Beal 7; Ross Neltner 4; Derrick Byars 3; Ted Skuchas 3; Alan Metcalfe 2 and JeJuan Brown 1.

Vanderbilt improves to 10-4 with the win. The Commodores open SEC play on Saturday at Auburn. Rice falls to 6-6 and will travel to Princeton on Saturday.

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