MBB opens SEC Tournament Thursday
March 11, 2008
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ATLANTA - The 18/17th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores, the number three seed in the SEC East, will take on the number six seed in the SEC West, Auburn, Thursday afternoon at 2:15 CST at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. The match up with the Tigers marks the third time in four years Vanderbilt has opened SEC Tournament play with Auburn. The game will be televised regionally by Raycom Sports, with Tom Hammond and Larry Conley handling the play-by-play and color duties. The game can also be heard on the Vanderbilt-ISP Radio Network, with Joe Fisher and Tim Thompson taking care of announcing duties on the radio side.
The Commodores, who had a chance at the number two seed in the East and a first-round bye, saw its chances of the two seed disappear after Alabama upset Vanderbilt in overtime, 78-73, Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. The Commodores battled back and tied the game with 20 seconds remaining in regulation on an A.J. Ogilvy three-point play, but Alabama senior Mykal Riley stroked the Crimson Tide to the victory by scoring 13 points in the overtime period.
The loss pushed Vanderbilt's overall record to 25-6 on the season, tied for the most regular season wins in the history of the program (1992-93), and 10-6 in SEC play, the second consecutive season the Commodores have posted a 10-win season in conference play.
Auburn and Vanderbilt will meet for the eighth time on a neutral floor, with the Tigers holding a 6-1 overall lead, and also will see each other for the third time in four years in the first round of the SEC Tournament. The two teams have split the last two meetings - Vanderbilt beat Auburn, 76-71, in Nashville in 2006, and Auburn knocked off the Commodores, 77-73 in 2005 at the Georgia Dome.
Vanderbilt owns a 76-51 advantage in the all-time series, leading 45-16 in Nashville and 30-29 in Auburn. The Commodores won the only meeting this season on February 2 at Memorial Gym 78-71. Vanderbilt owns a 14-8 advantage in the overall series since 1990 and a 22-11 lead since 1980. Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings is 5-5 all-time against Auburn, 1-1 on neutral floors. Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo is 2-3 against the Commodores.
Auburn enters the game Thursday with a 14-15 overall record and ended the season with a 4-12 mark in SEC play.
Quan Prowell leads the Tigers in scoring, averaging 15.3 points per game. Korvotney Barber, who averaged 13.8 points in 10 games this year, has missed the last 19 games due to injury. Rasheem Barrett and Frank Tolbert also add double-digits, with each averaging 13.3 points per game.
Vanderbilt will play on the first day of the tournament for the 13th time since the league split into two divisions prior to the 1992 season. Vanderbilt has received two byes at the SEC Tournament since 1992 - when the Commodores won the overall crown with a 14-2 record in 1993, and last season, when Vanderbilt was a number two seed after finishing 10-6 in league action.
Vanderbilt owns a 28-45 all-time mark at the SEC Tournament. The Commodores lost in the quarterfinals of the 2007 tournament to Arkansas, 72-71, on March 9, 2007. Vanderbilt's lone SEC Tournament title came in 1951 when the Commodores defeated Kentucky 61-57 in Louisville, Ky.
Vanderbilt is making its 47th appearance in the SEC Tournament. VU has reached the semifinals nine times and the finals once.
Vanderbilt's SEC Tournament record against each opponent follows: Alabama (4-3), Arkansas (0-2), Auburn (1-6), LSU (3-6), Ole Miss (2-3), Mississippi State (7-4), Florida (2-5), Georgia (4-1), Kentucky (3-4), South Carolina (0-0), Tennessee (1-7).
The SEC Tournament returns to Atlanta, Ga., this week for the 12th time in tournament history. Vanderbilt is 6-11 all-time in the tournament when it is held in Georgia.
The Commodores are 4-8 in the Georgia Dome (1995, 1998-2000, 2002, 2004, 2007), 0-1 in The Omni (1987) and 2-2 in the Atlanta AC (1933-1934).
Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings is 5-8 all-time at the SEC Tournament, and has advanced to the semifinals one time during his nine-year tenure. The Commodores knocked off Ole Miss in the first round (70-50) and Mississippi State in overtime in the quarterfinals (74-70), before losing to Florida, 91-69, in the semifinals.
Senior guard Shan Foster was recently named the SEC Player of the Year by the league's coaches, joining Derrick Byars as the second consecutive Commodore to win the coaches' vote for Player of the Year. Foster is the fourth Vanderbilt player to win the award, joining Byars, Dan Langhi in 2000, and Will Perdue in 1988. Only LSU (six) and Kentucky (five) have won more SEC Player of the Year award honors from the league's coaches than Vanderbilt (four) since the award's inception in 1987. Foster was also named as a first-team All-American by Scout.com, a second-team All-American by Sporting News, and the number one ranked shooting guard in Rivals.com's latest power rankings.
Freshman center A.J. Ogilvy, who leads all SEC freshman in scoring at 16.7 points per game, was a unanimous selection to the league's All-Freshman team and was honored on the All-SEC Second Team. The 6'11 freshman from Sydney, Australia, has four double-doubles on the year and is one of the league leaders in field goal percentage (4th, 58.2%) and free throw percentage (4th, 78.4%). He also leads all SEC players in free throw attempts with 208 charity stripe appearances, which is also the fourth-highest single-season total in Vanderbilt history.
Tip-off is set for 2:15 CST. The winner of the Vanderbilt/Auburn game will face Arkansas on Friday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.
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