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Vandy suffers first home loss of season

1/28/2004

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Kerbrell Brown tapped in Josh Gonner's
miss with 1.9 seconds left and lifted No. 24 South Carolina over
Vanderbilt 57-55 Wednesday night for the Gamecocks' fifth straight
win.

South Carolina (18-2, 5-1) remained atop the Southeastern
Conference's Eastern Division with the victory in an ugly game that
featured 17 lead changes and six ties, the last with 9.2 seconds to
go off Matt Freije's putback of Mario Moore's miss.

Gonner then took the ball up the court and drove to the basket.
His shot missed, and the ball rolled around before Brown knocked it
in.

Vanderbilt (13-4, 2-4) had one last chance, but Freije's
desperation heave from just past midcourt never came near the
basket.

It was the Commodores' first loss at home this season, snapping
an 11-game winning streak in Memorial Gym. Losing to South Carolina
has become a habit. The Gamecocks now have won 13 of the past 16
games in this series, and Vanderbilt has not won on its home court
since Jan. 20, 1999.

Gonner finished with 17 points to lead South Carolina, and
Carlos Powell had 10. Brown had eight points.

Freije led Vanderbilt with 26 points, and Scott Hundley added
12.

The Gamecocks, who lead the SEC in most defensive categories,
got Vanderbilt into the kind of sloppy and messy game they prefer
with three jump ball situations in the opening minutes alone as
players just started reaching in and tying up the ball.

Vanderbilt led 32-28 after a first half that featured two
players being ejected after a tussle in front of the Commodores'
bench. Gamecocks center Renaldo Balkman apparently hit Vanderbilt
guard Corey Smith, who threw Balkman to the ground and started
punching him with 5:37 left in the half.

Stallings and assistant Jeff Jackson pulled Smith away, and
officials spent 10 minutes talking amongst themselves and with the
coaches from each team before ejecting Balkman for a flagrant foul
and Smith for fighting.

Freije picked up a technical of his own after throwing the ball
at a South Carolina player after scoring to put Vandy up 20-17 with
4:41. Freije scored seven points in the final 1:53 to keep the
Commodores ahead at halftime.

South Carolina won despite going without a bucket from the floor
for 6{ minutes down the stretch before Gonner stole the ball and
scored on a layup with 29.1 seconds to go for a 55-53 lead.