Vanderbilt tops scrappy Auburn, 78-71

The Vanderbilt Commodores got a much needed Southeastern Conference win at Memorial on Saturday 78-71 over the Auburn Tigers. "We needed a win," said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. He continued, "It didn't make any difference how it looked or how it felt."

Shan Foster had this to say on the importance of the win to the Commodores, "Losing two games in a row kind of took a toll on us. We have a great team and we have great coaches. Our team chemistry is as good as it's been and we just continued to plug at it. We felt like we were at a point like we were a year ago when we lost to Furman and we were 1-3. Just like we did then, we pulled together as a team and we continued to fight and believe in each other."

Stallings gave a lot of credit to his seniors for pulling them their team through time. "With our players, if you call something to their attention, they'll do something about it. I met with our seniors on Thursday and things got better Thursday afternoon, they got better Friday, and they got better today. They'll lead us. It's easy when you lose four out of five games to get [down]. They know how to fight."

The Commodores did it with defense in the first half holding Auburn to just 23% shooting from the field. The biggest play of the first half came as time expired when Commodore point guard Jermaine Beal hit a half court shot to give the Commodores a 37-25 lead heading into the break.

Vanderbilt's momentum would not last long because Auburn came out of the break on fire. Frank Tolbert, who had 32 to lead all scorers in the game, opened the half with threes on back to back possessions. The Tigers started the half on a 15-5 run with 11 of those points coming from Tolbert. That run would narrow the Commodore lead to 2 at 42-40.

The two teams traded baskets for much of the first 15 minutes of the second half, and with two Tolbert free throws with 6:35 to play in the game the Commodore lead was just one at 63-62.

That's when Beal took over. He made back to back spectacular defensive plays and scored 7 straight unanswered points. His 7 points would propel the Commodores on a 13-4 run that would all but put an end to the Tigers bid for an upset.

Vandy got double figures from four of their five starters led by freshman center A.J. Ogilvy with 19. Alex Gordon added 17, Foster 16 and Beal had 13.

The Tigers got 32 from Tolbert, 12 from Quan Prowell and 10 from Dewayne Reed.

The win improved the Commodores' record to 18-4 overall and 3-4 in SEC play. The loss dropped the Tigers to 12-8 overall and 2-5 in the conference.

The Commodores head on the road again Wednesday to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. That game tips off a 6:30.


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