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THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2007
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Vanderbilt's Alex Gordon (3) fouls Alabama's Alonzo Gee (12) during the first half.
AP photo by John Russell
Vanderbilt's Alex Gordon (3) fouls Alabama's Alonzo Gee (12) during the first half.

Vanderbilt sticks it to No. 9 Alabama from long range

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

NASHVILLE — With four minutes remaining, Vanderbilt fans started the overused "overrated" chant as their Commodores polished off a 94-73 win over No. 9-ranked Alabama.

But with the Crimson Tide (14-3, 1-2 SEC) not having won at Memorial since 1990, maybe the Commodores (12-6, 2-2) trouncing of the Tide on Wednesday shouldn't have surprised anybody.

"The way they shot the ball they could have beat anybody in the country," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "A lot of times, the shots were contested. Long arms flying at them and they still knocked them down."

Coming into the game, Vanderbilt's reputation said the Commodores lived and died by the 3-point basket. And the living started early with forward Shan Foster's first bucket at 19:08.

From then on, the Commodores delivered a 3-point barrage against a quicker, more athletic Crimson Tide team.

In the first half alone, Vandy sank 9 of 15 from 3-point range and 21 of 31 overall. The Commodores finished 15 of 28 on its 3-pointers. Foster made a team-high five 3-pointers and led all scorers with 27 points. Guard Derrick Byars made three and had 15 points.

"They were hitting when they were open and hitting with hands in their faces," said Alabama guard Mykal Riley, who had a team-high 21 points.

"They were hitting everything."

While trying to keep up with the Commodores' shooting, Alabama failed to stay with its game plan of pushing the ball inside.

With Jermareo Davidson at 6-foot-10 and Athens High graduate Richard Hendrix at 6-8 and 267 pounds, Alabama thought it could take advantage of Vandy's lack of size — 6-9 center Ross Neltner is the only Vanderbilt starter over 6-7.

But the Tide found itself rushing jump shots.

Though Davidson finished with 18 points, few of his baskets came inside. In the first half alone, six of Davidson's 17 attempts came from around or behind the 3-point line and with Vandy not missing, the Tide started playing the Commodores' game.

"They did a good job of not letting it go in (the low post)," Gottfried said. "We would have liked to have gotten around the basket a little bit more. They kept the ball out of there and had good ball pressure."

Hendrix finished with another double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Having a week since the last game didn't seem to help Alabama point guard Ronald Steele, who finished with five points on 1-of-11 shooting and was visibly hobbled by his ankle problem.

In the fourth quarter, one of Steele's 3-point shots missed so badly that it hit the lower right part of the scoreboard.

"You can't blame it on the injury," Steele said.

Later, he added, "I don't even remember what 100 percent feels like."

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