Vanderbilt Winning Again

The Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the Auburn Tigers 78-71 on Saturday in Nashville at Memorial Gym, led by balanced offensive efforts by Shan Foster and A.J. Ogilvy.

With both coaching staffs wearing sneakers with their suits in support of the American Cancer Society, the Vanderbilt Commodores took the court on Saturday afternoon against the Auburn Tigers in hopes of regaining some of the momentum of their early undefeated streak. After starting the season 16-0, the Commodores had lost 4 of their last 5 – all on the road – in SEC play and were looking to regain their confidence and get back on the winning track.

Vanderbilt shot out of the gates, racing out to a 10-2 lead in the opening 2:25 of a game in which they never trailed. However, after the first timeout of the game, Coach Kevin Stallings subbed out the entire starting lineup, giving his second team some early minutes. But this did not work out as he had expected, and the new lineup committed several quick turnovers, including one on the inbounds pass following the timeout which freshman point guard Keegan Bell threw out of bounds.

Armed with a far deeper and healthier lineup, Stallings was able to substitute much more liberally early on than Auburn's Jeff Lebo, often sending in three or four fresh players at a time. On the other side, the Tigers were missing 6'7" forwards Kovortney Barber and Josh Dollard, both double-digit scorers a year ago. Because of this, Vanderbilt had the advantage both in terms of size and stamina, as they were able to get much more rest than the Auburn players.

Freshman center Ogilvy got off to a hot start, scoring the first four points of the game en route to 13 points in the first half and a team-high 19 for the game. Against a team forced by injuries to play a four-guard lineup similar to that utilized by the Commodores in the 2006-07 season, the 6'11" Aussie seemed to have no difficulties early on matched up against the much smaller Tigers.

The Commodores were very active defensively in the first half, with Alex Gordon drawing a charge on the opening possession and George Drake blocking three shots. They were able to limit the second-chance baskets by the Tigers by stepping up their rebounding effort, and even were able to pull down twelve offensive rebounds of their own for the game. They held Auburn to 25 points on 8-of-34 (23.5%) shooting in the first half, while shooting 44% themselves.

Sophomore Jermaine "Dolla" Beal was money to close out the first half, making a running three-pointer from just past half-court as the buzzer sounded, sending the Commodores into the locker room with a twelve point lead. Auburn rode the hot shooting of Frank Tolbert and Quan Prowell early in the second half to cut the lead to two with fourteen minutes to go, but that was as close as they would get after Vanderbilt used 3-pointers by Gordon and Foster on consecutive possessions to regain some of the momentum.

For yet another game, Vanderbilt struggled with their defensive intensity in the second half, giving up countless open looks to an offensively-challenged Tigers lineup. Ogilvy went to the bench with his fourth foul with 12:11 remaining, but Foster picked up the slack in a big way in his absence, scoring 13 of his 16 points in the second half.

Without the big man patrolling the paint, Auburn's Tolbert made several easy shots from underneath the basket on his way to a game high 32 points. However, he picked up three quick fouls in the span of 27 seconds, and had to be much less aggressive for the duration of the contest, which essentially shut down the Tigers' only scoring threat on the day.

Foster was joined by Ogilvy, Gordon (17 points) and Beal (13) as double-digit scorers, whereas Tolbert, Prowell (12) and sophomore Dewayne Reed (10) reached double figures for the Tigers.


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