Another 1 bites the dust
Final: No. 14 Vanderbilt 72 No. 1 UT 69
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Feb. 26, 2008
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Chris Lofton led Tennessee with 25 points. Tyler Smith, playing with the flu, had 11 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.
"They came out with the passion and played with more intensity than us. They wanted it more than us tonight, and it showed. They got the win and they deserved it," Lofton said.
The Commodores celebrated by high-fiving classmates as they walked and skipped between the student section and the campus officers keeping them off the court.
These rivals separated by less than 200 miles hadn't played in Nashville with both ranked since 1968. Vanderbilt won that game also.
This time, the Commodores had a sellout crowd making it even louder than what the Vols faced from a bigger group in Memphis' FedExForum. In Memorial, sound just rolls off the cinder block walls and back onto the floor, and one sign summed up the Vols' fate: "Enjoy Second Place Next Week."
The combination of the travel and quick turnaround left the Vols exhausted, and it showed in the first half as they hit only eight of 34 shots, too often shooting away from beyond the 3-point line where they hit only 5-of-17. They finished 20-of-61.
Wayne Chism, who had 18 points and 18 rebounds when Tennessee beat Vanderbilt in Knoxville 80-60 last month, had four points and four rebounds.
"I thought we got punked in Knoxville," Foster said. "We wanted to show we were a different team."
Vanderbilt led 31-28 at the break after nearly blowing a 14-point lead in the opening half. The teams swapped the lead four times with three ties before Alan Metcalfe's 3-pointer broke a 43-all tie with 14:20 left, and Vanderbilt never trailed again.
Tennessee stayed close enough to keep sending Vanderbilt to the free-throw line and pulled within 72-69 on Chism's dunk with 7.5 seconds.
But Ross Neltner got the ball past the Vols' pressing defense, Foster threw it upcourt to Keegan Bell. The Vols fouled him with 1.8 seconds left, and he missed both attempts. But a late throw at the basket went deep into the seats after the buzzer.
Vanderbilt nearly ran Tennessee out of the gym in the opening minutes by scoring 10 of the first 13 points and jumping out 23-9 on Andrew Ogilvy's dunk with 10:36 left in the first half. Then they went cold, finishing by hitting only two of their final 12 shots. They went nearly seven minutes between field goals before Foster hit his fourth 3 with 3:57 to go.
Tennessee answered with a 14-3 spurt, and Lofton missed a chance to tie it going into the half with an off-target 3 over two defenders just before the buzzer.
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