BYARS' BUCKET MAKES IT FOUR-IN-A-ROW
No. 17 Vanderbilt 67 Kentucky 65
Feb. 25, 2007
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Derrick Byars has been building his case for Southeastern Conference player of the year throughout league play. His performance against Kentucky may boost him above the pack.
Byars finished with 26 points, and Shan Foster added 21 as the Commodores (19-9, 9-5) erased a 10-point second-half deficit. They didn't lead until Byars went to the free-throw line with 29 seconds left.
The Wildcats called timeout and got the ball to point guard Ramel Bradley, closely guarded by Byars.
Bradley drove the lane, was triple-teamed and threw up a shot that missed. Time expired in the scramble for the ball.
"We were just trying to get the ball inside, get a good shot, maybe get fouled taking the ball to the basket," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.
Bobby Perry led Kentucky with 18 points, and Jodie Meeks added 15 as the Wildcats outshot Vanderbilt 58 percent to 41 percent. But the Commodores scored 20 points off Kentucky's 22 turnovers.
"It's just very disappointing when you can't make the plays down the stretch, don't get stops like you should, and you don't value the basketball," Smith said. "The turnovers really hurt us."
Perry scored 11 first-half points in leading the Wildcats to a 32-23 lead at the break.
This was a rare fourth consecutive win by Vanderbilt over Kentucky and matched the Commodores' four-game winning streak of the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.
Stallings believes his team is building momentum as tournament time approaches.
"A lot of teams are fighting to get into the tournament, and playing their best basketball. To know you can get it done at the end does wonders for your confidence," Stallings said.
"I looked at the clock with four minutes left, and even with the game being as close as it was, there was no doubt on our team that we were going to win."
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