VU/UT first met in 1922
Feb. 11, 2009
Vanderbilt has been playing competitive basketball since 1893 with its first game against the Nashville Y.M.C.A. That game was played on February 7 and documents Vanderbilt as the first collegiate team to field a basketball team and play an official game. The Commodores won 9-6 at the Y.M.C.A.'s downtown Nashville gymnasium.
The Vols played their first official game at the Ashville Y.M.C.A. on January 22 1909, a 20-10 loss. In 1922, Vols Coach M. B. Banks club was 6-6-1 entering the game while Vanderbilt's head coach Wallace Wade led his Commodore squad with a 6-4 record.
The inaugural contest was played in Knoxville on a Saturday night on February 11, 1922. The Tennessean reported on the soon-to-be intrastate basketball rivalry:
"By holding Vanderbilt to one field goal in the entire forty minutes of play tonight, the Tennessee Volunteers pulled the biggest surprise of the local season by defeating the Commodores 20 to 5.
"The Vols entered the game with the dope against them, despite Vandy's defeat Friday night at the hands of the University of Chattanooga, but in this case as in many others, the dope vanished into thin air when Thomas, Bell and Embry for the Gold and Black could not break past the center of the floor without losing the ball.
"The defensive game put up by Tennessee was nearly invincible. When the invaders attempted to break through the five-man defensive game of the locals by taking long shots, and then following through, they failed to get a second shot, as a Tennessee man was always waiting to take the ball off the backboard and start a march down the floor.
"Tennessee's offensive work did not measure up to the standards of their defensive game. The Vols garnered but six field goals, the remaining eight points resulting from the accurate eye of Ross Reeder in tossing the eleven free throws awarded by the referee.
"For Vandy, Bell played a hard floor game and started most of Vanderbilt's rallies. He contributed two points, via the free throw route. Thomas was the only other Commodore able to score. He was held to a lone field goal, the only one credited to his team and one successful foul shot."
Vanderbilt's lineup included Alvin Bell, Ted Srygley, Julian Thomas, Slim Embry, Gerald Cowan, Tommy Ryan and Manning Brown. The Vols players that appeared in the game were David Beane, Ross Reeder, Roe Campbell, Palmer Janes and Earl Keister.
Nashville was waiting for the big rematch on February 21 when Blinky Horn of The Tennessean wrote:
"If you have been waiting for the big battle, the real floor fight, then here it is. Vandy winds up its cage campaign tonight in the Y gymnasium when the Commodores battle Tennessee. There is no end of fierce and furious fighting lying dormant in that statement.
"For Vandy is feverish for revenge against the Vols, who in Knoxville a short time back held them to the most frugal scoring of the year. The Commodore five collected only five points in forty minutes of combat. Meanwhile the Vols were briskly brewing a score of tallies. What more the bitterness between Vandy and Tennessee under any and all circumstances is no sweeter than a gall and wormwood highball."
Vanderbilt and Tennessee had been competing in football and baseball since the 1890's. It was reported that the Commodores were not at full strength due to their captain Thomas, and starting guard Brown, being injured. Embry was out due to an illness with the flu.
The Tennessean reported on the outcome of the second game:
"Vandy's floor five last night almost emerged from the cage coma in which it has slumbered through its past six basket bouts. It woke up for a time, dealt the foe from Tennessee a series of average slams and then staggered back into another morose finish. They made it close. But not close enough.
"The Vols from Knoxville bagged the return duel 16 to 15 and thereby crowned themselves with new laurels no other quint this campaign has been abid to garner as many as two verdicts over the Commodores."
The Tennessean gave these details:
"Vandy knitted a four point lead together before Tennessee could set a basket. Pep Bell shot one and Srygley, who replaced Thomas, caged close under the basket. Bean got the first of Tennessee's first goals in that half, but Pep Bell hastily plunked one in after a specimen of fine passing. Thomas shot a foul shot and Roe Campbell flung in a long one. Doc Kuhn dropped in a beauty and Cowan pitched a fancy basket just before the half ended.
"Vandy looked wobbly all through the second period, while the Vols improved at a rattling clip. Their passing was much better than Vandy's as was their floor work, and though they blundered often taking too long chances, their work was furlongs ahead of the Commodores, as the game grew old. Roe Campbell netted three easy baskets in the last period and Vandy was but a point in front.
"Bell collected a lengthy shot, but Reeder slipped in and netted one and again Vandy's lead was whittled down. Bean put Tennessee ahead with a beauty but Srygley brought Vandy back in front. Then, Reeder from far out whipped in the basket which brought glee to Knoxville."
Tennessee would win the first pair of basketball games with Vanderbilt and concluded its 1921-22 season with a 13-7-1 record. Vanderbilt finished the season at 8-8. Wade's two-year career record as the Commodores' head basketball coach is 24-16.
Traughber's Tidbit: The most individual points scored in Memorial Gymnasium are 53 by John Neumann of Ole Miss. His points came on December 22, 1970 in a Commodore 130-112 victory. Bo Wyenandt (1967) and Shan Foster (2008) hold the Vanderbilt scoring mark in Memorial Gymnasium with 42 points.
Tidbit Two: The fewest points combined for two teams in Memorial Gymnasium are 64. Mississippi State defeated Vanderbilt 33-31 on January 30, 1982.
Tidbit Three: Vanderbilt's home record for the 2007-08 year was 19-0. The Commodores were also undefeated in Memorial Gymnasium in 1992-93 (14-0), 1966-67 (14-0), 1964-65 (14-0) and 1960-61 (13-0). Vanderbilt has never had a losing record in Memorial Gymnasium and entered the 2008-09 season with an all-time record of 669-184 (784 pct.) in 56 years. The 2008-09 `Dores are 10-4 at home with three games left in Memorial.
If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via e-mail WLTraughber@aol.com.
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