Vanderbilt downs Downey and USC, 89-79

COLUMBIA-- A.J. Ogilvy scored 22 points and Jeffery Taylor added 16 as Vanderbilt won their second consecutive conference road game with a convincing, 89-79, victory over South Carolina. The Commodores are 3-0 in the SEC for the first time since the 1989-90 season. [UPDATED]

In the first half Vanderbilt fell behind briefly, 3-0, on a 3-point shot by Ramon Galloway, but took the lead with 17 minutes before halftime on a Jermaine Beal trey. Vandy then built their lead to 17-10 utilizing several layups and free throws. A three pointer by Lance Goulbourne extended the Commodore lead to 9 (26-17) with 9 minutes to go before the break.

After a several minute delay in the game due to a technical problem, which affected the Colonial Arena's lighting, the game was resumed and the Gamecocks quickly pulled back to within three on a Devan Downey jump shot at 26-23. South Carolina would then pull to within one twice during the final minutes of the half only to see a John Jenkins 3-pointer put the 'Dores up by eight with 40 seconds to go. However, a Downey driving layup made the halftime score, 41-35.

In the second half Vanderbilt's Ogilvy, who had scored only four points in the initial stanza, came alive. He quickly established himself by tipping in a Taylor miss to put Vanderbilt had, 43-35, just 40 seconds into the half. Taylor's jumper with 16:24 to go put the Vandy lead to 13, 50-37. Vanderbilt would maintain a lead of nine to 13 points over the next few minutes before a Steve Tchiengang layup extended the Commodore lead to 15 at 66-51 with 10:40 to go. A jumper by Brad Tinsley at the 10-minute mark gave the visitors their biggest lead of the game at 17 (68-51).

However, the Gamecocks and Downey would not go down easily. Downey, who would finish with 35 points, helped spark a furious USC rally that brought the score to 76-68 with 4:30 to go in the game. But a Jermaine Beal dunk completed a 9-1 run that gave Vanderbilt a comfortable, 85-69, advantage with 2:40 to go. The Gamecocks then outscored the Commodores, 10-4, in the final minutes, despite a couple of Ogilvy dunks, to make the final score a more respectable, 89-79.

After the game, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings talked about the significance of Vanderbilt's two early road wins, "It's huge. We talked about at the beginning of the week how good we'd feel on Sunday if we could get two road wins. Now we'll hopefully get to experience that tomorrow. It was big. Any road win in this league is a great win." The coach also commented on Downey's phenomenal performance, "Downey was sensational. I was telling our guys in the locker room, when I was an assistant for Coach (Roy) Williams at Kansas we had a guy give us 48 one night and we won. We were fortunate (Downey) had a good game (yet) we won."

The 3-0 SEC start is the best conference start for a Vanderbilt team since the 1989-90 season. That season Vanderbilt started out 10-2 including three straight SEC wins over Alabama, Ole Miss and Kentucky. However, the Commodores then dropped three consecutive SEC matchups and went on to finish with a 7-11 SEC record. Even so, that Vandy team did accomplish something special by winning the NIT championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Vanderbilt improves to 14-3 (3-0 SEC) and will have a mid-week bye before hosting Auburn on Saturday at Memorial Gym. South Carolina falls to 11-6 (2-1 SEC). The Gamecocks travel to Ole Miss on Wednesday. Vanderbilt has now taken a slim, 23-22, lead in the all time series with South Carolina.

South Carolina's Devan Downey (2) drives for the basket as Vanderbilt's Andre Walker (24) tries to block during the first half of their NCAA college basketball Saturday Jan. 16, 2010, at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. (AP/Mary Ann Chastain) Top Stories