Final: Vanderbilt 72 Kentucky 67
Jan. 20, 2007
The one-two punch of Derrick Byars and Shan Foster proved to be too much for the No. 25 Wildcats on Saturday. The duo torched the 'Cats for a combined 39 points, led by Byars' 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting and four treys. They came into the game averaging 30 points as a pair.
With the Commodores down 59-58 and only 2:19 remaining, Foster nailed a jumper over Sheray Thomas just inside the three-point line. The 'Dores never relinquished the lead after that, as Foster continued to come up with several big plays, including a steal, then an assist to Byars on a fast-break layup, plus a blocked shot in the final minute. On the day, Foster scored 16 points and collected seven rebounds, while also dishing out a career-high seven assists.
Kentucky came into the game holding opponents to only 29.5% from three-point range, while Vanderbilt stood at second in the conference in total treys converted on the year. Something had to give... and it ended up in the favor of the Commodores. VU shot 48% from the trifecta, making 11 of 23 attempts. Not to mention that Kentucky was only 6 for 22 from behind the arc, with almost half of its second half field goal attempts coming from the outside. Credit Vanderbilt for being aggressive on both sides of the ball.
Vanderbilt last won three consecutive games in the UK series when it won the last two meetings of the 1989 season and the first meeting of the 1990 campaign.
Senior leader Dan Cage stepped up in the clutch. After going scoreless in the first half, the Indianapolis, Indiana, native contributed 10 points in the closing twenty minutes, including a three with 1:54 left to put the dagger in the Wildcats.
Some may wonder if the 'Dores should just schedule opponents in the top 25. VU is 4-1 on the season against ranked opponents, with Saturday's victory being the first ranked win on the road. The 'Dores next face No. 16 LSU in Baton Rouge Wednesday.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Derrick Byars had 23 points, including 12 on 3-pointers, and Vanderbilt beat No. 25 Kentucky 72-67 Saturday for the Commodores' third-straight victory against the Wildcats and fourth win against a ranked opponent this season.
Prior to last year's win in Lexington, the Commodores (13-6, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) had never beaten the nation's all-time winningest team in 28 meetings at Rupp Arena. Now they've won two straight in the building to snap Kentucky's 11-game winning streak -- third longest in the country.
With under 3 minutes left, Ramel Bradley hit an off-balance shot to give the Wildcats (15-4, 4-1) their final lead at 59-58. However, Shan Foster answered with a jumper, then got a steal to feed Byars on another bucket.
Dan Cage then stretched the lead to nine on a 3-pointer with 1:20 remaining. The Commodores were 11-for-23 on 3s, one game after making a season-high 15 Wednesday in a victory over No. 10 Alabama.
Besides the Wildcats and Crimson Tide, Vanderbilt has also knocked off then-No. 16 Tennessee and then-No. 25 Georgia Tech. The Commodores' only loss against a ranked opponent came against then-No. 8 Georgetown in the season opener.
Kentucky never trailed by double-digits, but every time the Wildcats started to make a modest run, Byars or one of the other Vanderbilt outside shooters seemed to answer with a 3.
After starting 2-0, the Wildcats didn't lead again until the end of a sloppy first half, when Bobby Perry's 3 gave them a 33-32 edge at halftime. However, Vanderbilt immediately answered with back-to-back 3s -- one each by Byars and Ross Neltner -- to start the second half.
Although the Wildcats were only 6-of-22 from 3-point range, they dominated inside with season-best performances from forwards Perry and Sheray Thomas. Perry led five double-digits scorers for Kentucky with 13 points, and Thomas had 12 -- one point shy of a career best.
Kentucky had a 32-27 edge on rebounds, even though star center Randolph Morris wasn't much of a factor until late in the first half. He didn't get his first point until making a free throw almost 15 minutes in and finished with 11 points.
Foster had 16 points and Cage added 10 for Vanderbilt.