Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Vandy Dumps Vols Again, Chasing Kentucky

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Two weeks ago, the Vanderbilt Commodores stormed into Tennessee and thumped the Volunteers, 85-76. To prove that they are at least the second-best team in the SEC (after Kentucky), on Tuesday night, they hosted the Vols and chewed them up even worse, in a decidedly one-sided 90-71 smack-down.

6'7" sophomore swingman, Jeffery Taylor provided plenty of Vandy offense, scoring a career-high 26 points and assisting on 3 other hoops. He also snatched 7 rebounds as the Commodores built an insurmountable second-half lead and turned what was supposed to be a competitive game into an outright laugher.

Despite similar records (now both teams are 18-5), the Commodores weren't getting the respect they deserved in the polls, ranked #22 before Tuesday's game. Tennessee is at #12, but sure to drop following their poor showing on the road.

Vanderbilt is just a game behind 8-1 Kentucky in the SEC East, at 7-2, and will have a chance to even the score on February 20, when the Wildcats come to town. Kentucky has already beaten Vandy once, 85-72, but that was back on January 30, at Rupp Arena.

NOTABLE: Georgetown's Greg Monroe turned in his 9th double-double effort of the season in the Hoyas' 79-70 win at Providence, but the 6'11" forward's results had a different twist for a big man. while he scored 12 points, he also dished 12 assists while adding 7 rebounds. All of his other double-doubles have been of the points plus rebounds variety.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007


Vanderbilt Upsets #1 Florida

Vanderbilt 83 #1 Florida 70 - In a season witness to more than the usual share of ups and downs in the Top 25, this one rates as a real shocker. The Gators hit the floor in Nashville sporting the nation's longest winning streak - 17 games - but as Vanderbilt fans rushed onto the court as time expired they found themselves on the short end of their worst loss of the season.

The loss was only the 3rd of the season for Florida, which had previously dropped a 2-point decision to Kansas and lost 70-66 at Florida State. For the Commodores, it was their 6th win over a ranked opponent against only 2 losses and improved their SEC record to 8-4, good for 2nd place in the SEC East behind the 11-1 Gators.

Shan Foster and Derrick Byars each scored 24 points for Vanderbilt, which sizzled at 57% shooting from the field. Despite hitting 18 free throws to Vandy's 9 and shooting a respectable 44% from the floor, the Gators could not overcome 20 turnovers and Vanderbilt's speed and sharp passing which resulted in 21 assists.

Joakim Noah led the Gators with 15 points and Al Horford scored 13 and pulled down 11 rebounds, but only Corey Brewer joined them in double figures, with 13.

With the win and their outstanding record against ranked teams, the Commodores seem assured of a spot in the field of 65 in March.

Top 25 Home Winners

#3 Wisconsin 75 Penn St. 49 - Wis: Alando Tucker, 22 pts.; Kammron Taylor, 18.

#7 Pittsburgh 65 Washington 61 - Aaron Gray grabbed 10 rebounds but scored only 5 points as the Panthers pulled out a tough win against the testy Huskies. Washington's Spencer Hawes recorded his 2nd double-double of the year with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

#9 Kansas 92 Nebraska 39 - The Jayhawks scored 56 points in the second half while holding Nebraska to 17, and ran away to their most lopsided win of the season. All 13 players for Kansas scored in the blowout. The 53-point trouncing was the 2nd-largest margin of victory in Big 12 history, eclipsed only by a 102-46 win by Kansas over Nebraska in 1958.

#11 Nevada 79 Northern Iowa 64 - The Wolf Pack hit 9-18 3-pointers and pulled away in the second half to improve to 24-2.

#17 Air Force 67 Colorado St. 58 - The Falcons still trail BYU by 1/2-game in the Mountain West conference at 10-3. BYU is 10-2.

#23 West Virginia 81 Seton Hall 71 - Seton Hall shot just 15% on 3-pointers (3-20) and the Mountaineers pulled away late. The win put West Virginia in a 3-way tie for 4th place in the Big East with Marquette and Syracuse at 8-5.

#25 Alabama 72 #20 Kentucky 61 - Up-and-down Alabama aided their cause with an important home victory over the Wildcats. The win evened Alabama's SEC record at 6-6, tied for 1st in the SEC West with Mississippi and Mississippi St.

Top 25 Road Winners

#4 North Carolina 77 #22 Boston College. 72 - The Tar Heels regained a tie for 1st place in the ACC with 9-3 Virginia, handing BC their second straight home loss and dropping them to 4th in the conference standings at 9-4. Both teams shot 52% for the game, but the Tar Heels hit 16-20 free throws to BC's 11-21, which provided the margin of victory.

#5 UCLA 81 #19 Arizona 66 - Josh Shipp threw down 24 points as the Bruins crushed Arizona, possibly sealing the fate of the Wildcats' postseason hopes. The loss dropped Arizona to 8-7 in the Pac-10 and 17-9 overall.

#6 Texas A&M 56 Oklahoma 49 - Joseph Jones and Acie Law each scored 21 points as the Aggies continued their roll through the Big 12 and remain in a tie with Kansas at 12-2 for first place. The Aggies' next stop is at #18 Oklahoma St. on Wednesday.

#8 Memphis 78 Gonzaga 77 - The Tigers scraped by upset-minded Gonzaga and extended their winning streak to 15 games. By virtue of Florida's loss to Vanderbilt, Memphis now claims the longest current win streak in the nation. Joey Dorsey scored 15 and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Memphis.

#14 Georgetown 58 Villanova 55 - The Hoyas avenged a 56-52 loss at Villanova earlier in the year to keep pace with 10-2 Pittsburgh for 1st place in the Big East. Jeff Green led the way with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. The Hoyas recorded 14 blocks overall, playing without Roy Hibbert, who sat much of the game with foul trouble and scored only 4 points. The streaking Hoyas have won 9 in a row while Villanova fell to 6-6 in the conference.

#16 Southern Illinois 68 Butler 64 - The Salukis proved too tough for host Butler, hitting 7-15 treys and crashing the boards for a 33-24 edge. The non-conference game provided a good look at two of the better mid-major teams that likely will be competing in March. It was only the second game against a ranked opponent all season for Southern Illinois, but their record is perfect, having bested then-#16 Wichita State on January 1. The Salukis have won 9 straight.

Top 25 Losers (besides those already mentioned)

Louisville 61 #12 Marquette 59 - Louisville won on the road and continued its rise through the Big East standings with a third straight win, reaching 3rd place in the conference at 9-4 while knocking Marquette back to 4th. The Golden Eagles have lost three straight.

Stanford 88 #15 Oregon 69 - Oregon continued its spectacular collapse, losing for the 6th time in their last 8 games. The Ducks fell into a tie with Arizona at 8-7 in the Pac-10. Just a month ago they were in first place. Brook Lopez scored 24 for the Cardinal as they improved to 9-5 and 4th place in the conference.

Missouri 75 #18 Oklahoma St. 64 - Once again, Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry got little support from their teammates and the Cowboys got whipped at home. Oklahoma State's star duo had 16 apiece, shooting a combined 12-26. The rest of the team shot 8-23, including only 1-7 3-pointers. It was the 4th loss in the Cowboys' last 5 games and sunk them to 7th place in the Big 12 at 5-6.

Michigan 58 #24 Indiana 55 - In another in a long series of ugly Big 10 games, Indiana shot just 38% from the field and hit only 6-21 threes and 11-18 from the foul line. Despite the loss, Indiana remained in 3rd place at 7-5, as Iowa dropped to 7-6. Behind them Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Illinois are all 6-6. Behind 12-1 Wisconsin and 11-1 Ohio State, mediocrity reigns supreme in the conference.

Of all the major conferences, the Big 10 should send the fewest number of teams to the Big Dance in March. Five could get bids, but no more than 3 are deserving.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007


Fear the Commodores!

Vanderbilt has knocked off four ranked SEC teams

Vanderbilt 64 LSU 53 - They're not flashy. They haven't been ranked yet this season. But the Vanderbilt Commodores are ripping through the SEC and raising eyebrows around the country. Last night the Commodores improved to 14-6 and 4-2 in the SEC, knocking off #21 LSU with a combination of swarming defense and timely shooting.

Beginning on January 10 with an 82-81 road win over then-#16 Tennessee, the Commodores have gone 4-1, including wins over Alabama, and road wins at Kentucky and LSU. Their only loss during the span was at Georgia (85-73), another SEC surprise.

On Wednesday in Baton Rouge, Vanderbilt outhustled the Tigers to an early 16-3 lead and never looked back. Frustrating LSU's Big Daddy Glen Davis into a 5-15 shooting performance, the Vanderbilt defense held the Tigers to 32% shooting overall. Vandy's top three scorers - Derrick Byars, Shan Foster and Dan Cage - led the scoring. Byars had 18, Foster and Cage scored 14 apiece and the trio nailed 9 of their team's 10 3-pointers.

The Commodores next hit the court on January 27 at home against Mississippi. They get their shot at #1 Florida (currently leading the Commodores by 1 1/2 games in the SEC East at 5-0) on the 31st in Gainesville.

Texas Tech 70 Texas A&M 68 - Bobby Knight added another win to his resume last night, but this one was particularly satisfying. Knight is college basketball's all-time leader in wins, now has his team tied for the Big 12 lead with Kansas, A&M and Texas, all at 4-1.

The Red Raiders knocked off Kansas, 69-64, on Saturday and made it two in a row against Top 10 teams on Wednesday night.

It wasn't as though the #6 Aggies were going to make it easy. Leading scorer Acie Law poured in 26 points on 9-15 shooting and the Aggies outshot Tech, 53-50%, but the Red Raiders popped from beyond the arc, hitting 10 of 19 3-pointers. They also frequented the foul line and made good on 22 of 29 free throws, especially Martin Zeno, who led the team with 22 points, including 13-14 from the line. Tech's leading scorer, Jarrius Jackson, had 14. Senior forward Jon Plefka hit 6 of 8 shots for 17 points.

Florida 70 Mississippi St. 67 - The #1 Gators survived a scare on the road, but managed to escape with their 11th straight win and remain undefeated in the SEC at 5-0. Corey Brewer scored 20 for the Gators who didn't shoot particularly well (42%), but made 23 of 35 free throws.

Wisconsin 71 Michigan 58 - The #2 ranked Badgers continued their roll though the miserably weak Big 10, improving to 6-0 in the conference and 20-1 (best record in the nation) overall. The win was their 16th in a row and a new school record, since a 66-64 loss at Missouri St. November 24. Alando Tucker and Brian Butch each had 16 points as coach Bo Ryan emptied the bench as Wisconsin was never threatened by the Wolverines.

North Carolina 88 Wake Forest 60 - The #4 Tar Heels put four players into double figures and coasted to an easy win at overmatched Wake Forest. The youthful North Carolina squad was led by freshman guard Wayne Ellison who hit 8 of 12 shots for a game-high 18 points. The Heels improved to 5-1 in the ACC, but still trail 6-1 (and unranked) Boston College by half a game. Wake Forest fell to 1-6 in conference play.

Ohio State 59 Northwestern 50 - The #5 Buckeyes got 18 points from Ivan Harris on the outside and 17 from Greg Oden inside in a well-managed road win over the Wildcats. Both players were sharp, as Harris hit 7 of 9 shots and Oden 6 of 7.

The Buckeyes continue to chase #2 Wisconsin in the Big 10, who handed them their only conference loss. Ohio State will play both Purdue and Michigan State twice between now and Feb. 10 plus a home game against Michigan on Feb. 6. They'll have to wait until the second-last game of the season on Feb. 25 to get the Badgers again, though this time the Buckeyes will have home court advantage.

Kansas 82 Baylor 56 - The Jayhawks rebounded from their loss to Texas Tech with an easy win at Baylor. #8 Kansas built a 42-18 lead at the half and coasted home from there with Brandon Rush leading the way with 18 points.

Pittsburgh 67 Cincinnati 51 - #9 Pittsburgh also got back on the winning track with a road win, mangling the Bearcats with 61% shooting, including 12-19 from 3-point range (63%).

Memphis 71 Tulsa 59 - The #11 Memphis Tigers are quietly tearing through Conference-USA and everybody's getting into the act. The Tigers had seven different scorers with 7 or more points in Wednesday's home win. Though they shot only 40% from the field, Tulsa was held to just 35%.

Memphis hasn't played a meaningful game since a 79-71 loss at Arizona, and considering the way the Wildcats have been playing of late, questions linger over just how good coach Calipari's squad is. The Tigers have won 8 straight and all 6 of their conference games by at least 10 points and they won't see another ranked team all season unless Gonzaga (whom they play on Feb. 17) goes on a tear. The soft schedule makes for a grand record but often an early exit in March.

Marquette 89 Seton Hall 76 - #15 Marquette quickly answered any questions about a let-down following Sunday's win at Pitt by blitzing the Pirates with 43 first-half points to take a commanding 13-point lead. Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal each had 22 points as the Golden Eagles won their 5th straight Big East contest after dropping their first two. Despite having beaten Pitt, they still trail the 6-1 Panthers by a full game in the wide-open Big East.


Thursday, January 18, 2007


Bottom Fallout: Five Losers

At the bottom of the Top 25, Wednesday was a disaster. Five teams lost in conference, but the biggest flop was in Nashville.

Vanderbilt 94 Alabama 73 - Junior Forward Shan Foster led the way with 27 points, including 5 3-pointers, as Vandy put a real hurt on #10 Crimson Tide. The 12-6 (2-2 SEC) Commodores are a real enigma, with wins over 'Bama, Tennessee and Georgia Tech, but losses to no-names such as Appalachian State and Furman. They do know how to dish, however, as they produced 27 assists in the win last night and have six players on the roster averaging more than 2 assists per game. Yes, they can dish the rock, but can they finish the dance? Vandy better be dandy for the rest of January with road games at Kentucky, LSU and Florida scheduled.

Auburn 83 Tennessee 80 - The Vols let this one slip away. Leading by 14 points with 10 minutes left, they allowed Auburn to chip away and win it on the foul line in the closing seconds. #22 Tennessee is now 1-2 in conference and their chances of staying ranked - after losing to Ohio State and now here on the road - are slim. Look for a Big East team (Syracuse) to take their spot on Monday.

Villanova 102 Notre Dame 87 - The 20th-ranked Irish fell behind early and could never get any closer than 7, as the Wildcats just kept hitting from everywhere. Villanova shot 57% and the two teams combined for 25 3-pointers (15 by Notre Dame). Scottie Reynolds topped the scoring chart with 27, going 8-12 from the floor. Villanova also outrebounded the Irish, 40-26. The loss dropped Notre Dame to 3-2 in the Big East with both losses coming on the road. No defense, no rebounding... sounds like a quick exit is in store for Notre Dame if they keep playing that brand of hoops.

North Carolina 77 Clemson 55 - This wasn't really a surprise as the #4 Tar Heels rebounded off their loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday. Carolina solved their shooting woes, hitting 31-60 from the floor while cutting down on 3-point attempts. They shot 8 and made 3. The Tar Heels have to cut down on the turnovers, however. Despite their 17 assists, the 22 turnovers don't look good. Still, an ACC road win is big. Watch the name Trevor Booker. Clemson's 6'7" frosh swatted 8 shots.

Florida State 82 Virginia Tech 73 - OK, the ACC is upside-down. After beating Duke and North Carolina in succession, the Hokies went South for their first conference loss. How do you shoot 56% and lose? Send the opposition to the foul line 34 times. That's what happened, and the Seminoles only missed 3 times on their home hardwood. The Hokies had their chances, but hit only 17-26 charity tosses. Plus, actually guarding senior Al Thornton or soph Toney Douglas might have helped. The duo scored 27 and 22, respectively and together accounted for 19 of Florida State's 31 made free throws.

The Seminoles are a team to watch, though. They now have a win in the ACC (1-3), but this is the team that beat Florida 70-66 in December, but also has losses to Pitt, Wisconsin, Clemson, North Carolina and Georgia Tech - some quality teams, and all but the Clemson loss were on the road. These guys could put a run together, do some damage in the ACC tournament and conceivably make life miserable for a few foes in the big dance. Keep an eye out for them.

Winners on Wednesday: #2 Wisconsin, 69-64 over Purdue; #7 Ohio State, 73-41 over Northwestern; #16 LSU, 62-55 over Mississippi; #18 Butler, 67-39 over Youngstown State. All Top 25 wins were on home courts except #4 North Carolina's win at Clemson.

Thursday action will be late, as most games are out on the coast. Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and Nevada play. #14 Duke is home for Wake Forest.

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