Vanderbilt proves it belongs among state's best

Updated: February 27, 2008

Charles Small/US Presswire

Vanderbilt has now beaten the last four No. 1 teams to enter Memorial Gym.

Key Shot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- One team in Memorial Gym on Tuesday night looked primed and ready for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and it wasn't the No. 1 team in the country.

And, no, we're not talking about the team of officials, either, who honked on their whistles relentlessly, all the while managing to call a staggering 53 personal fouls and three technical fouls.

To its credit, Vanderbilt never blinked, just like the Commodores didn't blink back in January when they lost their first four SEC road games in a stretch that saw them open the conference season with six of their first nine games away from home.

"A lot of people jumped off the wagon a little bit," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said Tuesday.

Well, they're back on now. Knocking off No. 1 tends to have that effect, not to mention winning seven in a row.

Three days after Tennessee ended Memphis' 47-game home winning streak and vaulted to the top of the college basketball world for the first time in school history, the No. 14 Commodores made sure the Vols' stay at the top of the polls would be a short one.

Vanderbilt -- in taking down Tennessee 72-69 in one of those electric environments that makes college basketball so much fun -- was a more efficient team, a more resilient team, a smarter team, and a team with a player who simply wasn't going to be denied.

"We lost by 20 and felt like we really got punked in Knoxville and wanted to come out and show that we're a different team," said Vanderbilt senior guard Shan Foster, who needed just 13 shots to score a game-high 32 points and answer any uprising by the Vols, who trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half.

To read all of Low's column on Vanderbilt's win, click here. To see highlights of the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game, click here. ESPN Video

Key Notes

No. 1 Tennessee is the fourth top-ranked team to lose this season, and the four losses have been by an average of 2.8 ppg. UCLA lost to Texas by two points, North Carolina lost by two points to Maryland, Memphis lost by four points to Tennessee and now the Volunteers lost by three points to Vanderbilt.

• Seventeen schools have held the No. 1 ranking in the 11-season history of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll, and Tennessee became the fourth to lose its first-ever game in that spot. The other three schools are Ohio State (2006-07 at North Carolina), St. Joseph's (2003-04 vs. Xavier) and Florida (2002-03 at Kentucky).

• In ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll history, the three-day span between No. 1 teams losing (Memphis on Saturday and Tennessee on Tuesday) is tied for the shortest period of time to elapse between top-ranked teams losing. It had happened on two previous occasions, but both of those occurrences were losses by the same top-ranked team. In the 2005-06 season, top-ranked Duke lost at Florida State and then three days later at home to North Carolina. In the 2003-04 season, top-ranked Florida lost at home to Maryland and then three days later at Louisville.

Shan Foster of Vanderbilt finished the game with 32 points, one point shy of his career high. That total is the second-most ever scored by a player whose team beat the top-ranked team in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. On Feb. 5, 1998, North Carolina's Antawn Jamison scored 35 points as the Tar Heels beat top-ranked Duke 97-73.

New Mexico lost 70-69 at home in overtime to BYU on Tuesday. It is the Lobos' first home game decided by one point since a 72-71 overtime win over Colorado State on Jan. 27, 2001. They had played 133 home games since that win over the Rams. The last time the Lobos lost a one-point game at the Pit (their home venue) was on March 16, 1997, when they fell 64-63 to Louisville. Taking that loss into account, it had been 199 home games since the Lobos suffered their last one-point loss.

• VMI's Reggie Williams scored a Division I-high 34 points on Tuesday night in the Keydets' 81-79 win at Liberty. It is his 26th career game with at least 30 points, and the fourth time he's reached that total against Liberty. He hasn't reached 30 points more often against any other school.

• Connecticut's Jeff Adrien scored a career-high 27 points in the Huskies' 79-61 win at Rutgers. The Huskies are 4-1 when Adrien scores at least 20 points.

• Missouri State beat 20th-ranked Drake 86-83 at home on Tuesday night in the 494th and final game at the John Q. Hammons Student Center. How's this for a way to close the building down? The Bears had never defeated a top-20 team at home until this win over the Bulldogs. The win was also the 19th consecutive Senior Night win for the Bears. The last time the Bears lost the final home game of the regular season was on Feb. 27, 1989.


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On Tap For Wednesday

• Kansas at Iowa State, 7 ET (ESPN)
• Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 7:30 ET (Full Court)
• Miami (Fla.) at Clemson, 7:30 ET (Full Court)
• Mississippi at Kentucky, 8 ET (Full Court)
• Georgia Tech at Duke, 9 ET (ESPN)
• West Virginia at DePaul, 9 ET (ESPN2)

For the full schedule, click here. All games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Full Court also are on ESPN360.com.

Top 25 Scores From Tuesday

• No. 14 Vanderbilt 72, No. 1 Tennessee 69
• No. 12 Indiana 72, Ohio State 69
• No. 16 UConn 79, Rutgers 61
• Missouri State 86, No. 20 Drake 83
• No. 25 BYU 70, New Mexico 69 (OT)

For all scores, click here.

Southern Illinois wins fifth straight

Northern Illinois returns to the court

DEKALB, Ill. -- The moment of silence was followed by a moment of hesitation.

After paying tribute to the victims of the Feb. 14 shootings at Cole Hall, Northern Illinois basketball players remained in a circle around center court, their arms linked with those of their opponents, the Western Michigan Broncos. The public-address announcer twice thanked the crowd, signaling the end of the silent tribute, but neither team budged.

"That was a weird feeling," Northern Illinois guard Darion Anderson said. "That's something that we're definitely not used to."

Several seconds passed before a staffer shoulder-tapped two players, motioning for them to take their positions for the national anthem.

"We didn't know whether to clap or what," Huskies guard Jarvis Nichols said.

No one knew exactly how to act Tuesday night at the Convocation Center. Everyone inside the 9,100-seat arena was a beginner at this.

To read all of Rittenberg's column, click here.

Dakich wins Assembly Hall debut

News and Notes

Dan Dakich won his first home game as Indiana's interim coach. After beating Northwestern on the road on Saturday, the 12th-ranked Hoosiers returned to Assembly Hall to beat Ohio State 72-69 on Tuesday.

• Connecticut sophomore Jerome Dyson returned to the court on Tuesday. Dyson was suspended for a month for violating team rules. He played 15 minutes off the bench and had three points and five assists in UConn's 79-61 win.

BYU beats New Mexico in OT

Greatest Players: No. 9 Larry Bird