The Commodore lead swelled to 10 at 24-14 with 10:12 remaining when Foster drilled a 3-pointer. Foster finished with 14. Derrick Byars free throw with less than 3 minutes remaining gave Vandy its biggest lead of the half at 37-21. Two Alex Gordon free throws rounded out the first half scoring with Vanderbilt on top, 44-29.
In the second half Ole Miss used a scrappy defense and good 3-point shooting from Clarence Sanders to get back in the game. Bam Doyne's field goal pulled the Rebels to within 7 at 51-44 with 15:43 remaining. Doyne led all scorers with 22.
Sanders' 3-point shot with 10:34 remaining in the game gave Ole Miss the lead at 61-60. It was the first time Ole Miss led since the 2:30 mark in the first half. Over the next 6 minutes the lead changed hands several times and neither team could get more than a 4-point lead.
Ross Neltner made two free throws with 2:21 remaining to put Vanderbilt up 78-76. After a Commodore defensive stand, Neltner added a field goal to put his team up 80-76. Ole Miss would never lead again. Neltner finished with 10 points. Free throws by Gordon and Cage sealed the victory for Vanderbilt. Cage made 3 of 4 three-pointers and finished with 18 points.
Vanderbilt (15-6, 5-2 SEC) is off to its best start in SEC play since the 1992-93 season when the Commodores got off to a 6-1 SEC start and eventually won the SEC Championship with a 14-2 conference record. Vanderbilt will face their biggest test of the season on Wednesday night when they travel to #1 ranked Florida.
Ole Miss falls to 13-8 (2-4 SEC) and will host rival Mississippi State for a Tuesday night game.
Mississippi center Dwayne Curtis (44) shoots as he is pressured by Vanderbilt guard George Drake (34) in the first half of a college basketball game in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)