60 Moments at Memorial Gym: 25-36
Feb. 29, 2012
In a rare playoff game at a neutral site, Kentucky defeated LSU, 63-56, in front of a sold-out crowd on March 9, 1954.
The playoff took place after LSU had refused to play Kentucky during the regular season and ended up tying atop the SEC standings.
Although the game was played at a neutral site, it looked very much like a Kentucky home game with an estimated 95% of the fans in attendance pulling for the Wildcats.
Wrote the Nashville Banner's Dudley Green about the Kentucky fan base: "Nashville fans received their first introduction to Kentucky supporters. The local fan flock marveled at the Wildcat fanaticism. Never has the Memorial Gymnasium resounded as it did when the UK cheerleaders asked, 'All for Kentucky stand up and holler.' "
Despite Kentucky's decisive advantage in the seats, the Wildcats were unable to put much distance between themselves and LSU.
Kentucky led 32-28 at halftime, but the game was tied after three quarters and it was the first time all season that kentucky had to come from behind to win.
"We were losing our poise," Kentucky Head Coach Alolph Rupp said. "until we went into our all-court press. It upset LSU so, we gained the upper hand in short order."
Maybe even more rare than the existence of the playoff game was what took place after Kentucky won. By winning the game, Kentucky were extended the bid to play in the NCAA Tournament, but the Wildcats declined the bid and LSU ended up representing the SEC in the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky declined to accept the bid because of the ineligibility of Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey and Lou Tsioropoulos to participate. The three players had finished their work for a degree and as postgraduates were eligible for SEC play, but ineligible for NCAA competition.
Kentucky issued the following statement after the game:
The University of Kentucky basketball team has just won the championship of the Southeastern Conference. Each and every member o this team meets in full the eligibility rules of the Conference. Unhappily, Conference rules are not identical with NCAA tournament rules and the NCAA has refused to permit three members of Kentucky's team to participate in the NCAA tournament.
The Athletics Board and athletics officials at the University of Kentucky doubt that in the absence of the three boys, its team would be the strongest in the Southeastern Conference. Accordingly, the Athletics Board has unanimously voted that the University of Kentucky withdraw from the NCAA tournament and request the Conference to designate some other team to represent this district.
With Kentucky refusing the invitation, LSU Head Coach Harry Rabenhorst accepted it.
"Don't you think we did the right thing in withdrawing from the NCAA tournament? Our conference should send the most representative team, and without our three boys, we were not that." Rupp said. After the game, Rupp had to be treated for nervous exhaustion and was taken to his hotel room where visitors were barred.
Frank Ramsey led Kentucky with 30 points and Bob Pettit led LSU with 19 points. Kentucky finished the season 25-0, while LSU was 21-3 overall.
"I thought Ramsey was the difference," Rabenhorst said. "I'm proud of my boys. They played their hearts out. With a break or two, we might have won. But it was Ramsey who broke our back. I've always contended he was one of the greatest players in the country. His play bore that out."
There were 7,500 fans packed into Memorial Gym for the game in which each school received $8,000 for the playoff. Vanderbilt got 10 percent of the gross receipts, plus program and concession rights.
John Ed Miller connected on a jump shot from the top of the foul circle with two seconds to play, giving No. 6 Vanderbilt an 85-83 win over No. 1 Kentucky on Jan. 6, 1964.
"It was just about like we planned, Miller said. "We knew we had six seconds left when we threw it in. I was supposed to drive, but when they dropped back, I just jumped and shot. It felt good and I thought it was in all the way. I even started to jump up before it went through the goal."
Miller's basket came 10 seconds after Kentucky evened the game. The game caused so much excitement that fans tore down the basketball net at Memorial and presented it to the team in the locker room.
"That last shot came almost as exactly as planned," Skinner said. "We set it up for John Ed to drive ... or shoot from the circle if they dropped back. That's just what happened."
Roger Schurig and Clyde Lee combined for 38 points, but it was Miller's shot that would be remembered by those who watched on WSM-TV or the 7,324 in attendance.
Vanderbilt led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but Kentucky came charging back and led 79-75 with 5 minutes to go.
"You gotta hand it to these Vanderbilt boys," Kentucky Head Coach Adolph Rupp said. "We had them beat and they took it away from us."
A little bit of the luster was taken off the game because both teams lost for the first time that season in its previous game before the anticipated meeting. Both entered with 10-1 record. Vanderbilt had lost to Tennessee in its previous game and Kentucky had lost to Georgia Tech.
However despite the loss by both teams, their rankings remained intact for the game because it was played on a Monday night before the rankings came out. The next day, Kentucky had dropped to No. 2 and Vanderbilt was No. 7. Vanderbilt's triumph was not included in the rankings.
Schurig led all scorers with 23 points and Lee scored 15 points and had 25 rebounds.
"A tremendous effort," Skinner said. "We worked hard all night and deserved the game."
In the highest scoring game in SEC history, Vanderbilt defeated Ole Miss 130-112, on Dec. 22, 1970. The 130 points scored by Vanderbilt remain a school record as well. In total there were 16 individual and school records were set.
"This one they'll be talking about for a long time," Vanderbilt Head Coach Roy Skinner said. "It's a great feeling just to cut loose. And, we cut loose tonight."
In the game, Ole Miss' sophomore John Neumann set the Memorial Gym scoring record with 53 points on 23-49 shooting. His point total surpassed the previous high of 42 points by LSU's Pete Maravich, Kentucky's Louie Dampier and Vanderbilt's Bo Wyenandt.
"Neumann is a far better all-around player than Pete Maravich ever was," Vanderbilt co-captain Thorpe Weber said. "He's unselfish and he's a gentleman on the court. He's also a remarkable shooter."
Vanderbilt scored a school-record 76 points in the second half to overcome a 60-54 halftime deficit. Vanderbilt also made a record 52 field goals.
Seven Commodores scored in double figures. Center Van Oliver finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Ray Maddox had 16 points and 16 rebounds.
The win helped keep the Commodores in first place as 15,400 fans looked on in amazement.
The game was at such a fast pace that at one point official Dick Pace was on his knees wiping water from the foul lane when Vanderbilt drove to the basket above his head.
"We caught this bunch on the wrong night," Ole Miss coach Cob Jarvis said. "They wore us down on the boards and hit everything in sight!"
Vanderbilt shot 51.5% for the game, while Ole Miss shot 50.5%. Neumann scored 26 of his points in the first half.
In front of maybe the largest crowd to ever watch a game inside Memorial Gym, Vanderbilt upset seventh-ranked and undefeated LSU, 88-87, on Jan. 8, 1979. Because the game occurred during holiday break on campus, Vanderbilt officials sold a number of the student seats to the general public. However, a larger-than-expected student turnout led to an overflow crowd of 16,500 that spilled onto the apron of the playing floor and into the aisles.
The crowd was so large that the fire marshal got involved at halftime, ordering everyone to clear the aisles. Outside, the police were towing cars that were parked illegally on sidewalks all around the gym.
The fans that packed in Memorial Gym that night left having seen exactly what they had hoped for.
VU took the lead for good on two straight baskets by reserve Mark Elliott, giving the Commodores a 77-75 lead with just over five minutes to play. A pair of free throws by sophomore Mike Rhodes with 42 seconds to play proved to be the difference in the game as the Commodores improved to 10-1 overall and 3-0 in the SEC. The Commodores also moved atop the SEC standings with a loss by Tennessee the same night.
"It's no fluke. Not the way these kids played," Vanderbilt Head Coach Wayne Dobbs said. "We deserve to be No. 1 in the conference. I believe we have come of age."
LSU entered the game as the SEC favorite having just won at Kentucky the previous game.
"You won't hear any excuses from us," LSU Head Coach Dale Brown said. "Vanderbilt is a good team and it kept the pressure on us all night. Doggone it, it's just a loss for us and a great victory for Coach Dobbs and his team."
With win, Vanderbilt had won as many games during the season than it had the previous two years under Dobbs. After the game, Dobbs called the win "unquestionably the greatest night of his life."
Rhodes finished with a team-high 24 points. Charles Davis (pictured) added 18 points and Greg Fuller and Davis each had 11 rebounds.
"They (LSU) didn't play smart basketball," Davis said. "They've definitely got the biggest and strongest team int eh conference, but I though we blocked them off the boards. I just tried to stay cool and not get in foul trouble. If I had the shot, take it. If not, don't' force anything. I just think we wanted to win worse than they did."
"Nobody thought we could do it," Tommy Springer said. "The trainers who were taping us this afternoon didn't even think so. But, we changed all that."
Vanderbilt won despite LSU's DeWayne Seales scoring 30 and Al Green scoring 29. However, Seales fouled out with 2:30 to play.
"With just nine seconds to play and us down only three points, our guys came back to a huddle at timeout with their heads down." Brown said. "Instead of fire in their eyes like at Kentucky, they had that look which said, `golly we're unbeaten and we're losing it.' "
In addition to the 16,500 in attendance, a local television audience also saw the game on WTVF Channel 5.
The upset led Tennessean writer Jimmy Davy to pen the following: Under the circumstances and considering the wide gulf of physical talents between the two teams, this upset may have been not only one of the greatest in Vanderbilt's history, but the most courageous.
Barry Goheen hit a half-court shot just before halftime and did it for the second time in the same game to beat No. 13 Louisville, 65-62, as the final buzzer sounded.
Goheen's game-winning 45-footer sent a large portion of the crowd of 15,262 onto the court on this night of Nov. 30, 1988. The late game heroics were nothing new to Goheen (pictured), who had just sunk the fourth game-winning shot of his career at the buzzer.
The headline in the Tennessean the next day read: Magic Touch: VU's Goheen does it again.
"It wasn't anything fancy," Goheen said of his shot. "You only have three seconds left (to get the shot off). I expected more full-court pressure. This was Hail Mary, throw it up and hope it goes in. I knew it was going to be long enough but I thought it was going to be a little to the left. A lot can happen in three seconds."
Leading up to Goheen's shot, Vanderbilt's Barry Booker was fouled and sank two free throws with 15 seconds left to give VU a 62-60 lead. On the next possession of the game, Louisville's Tony Kimbro grabbed an offensive rebound and laid the ball in to tie the game with three seconds left.
"You don't expect him to make it," Louisville Head Coach Denny Crum said. "Sometimes things like that happen. We tried to make him take an off-balance shot but it just went in."
The win improved Vanderbilt's record to 2-2 on the season. Booker scored 20 to lead Vanderbilt. Frank Kornet finished with 15 and Goheen had 11. Goheen had previously beaten Tennessee and Florida as a freshman and Penn as a sophomore. He had also helped defeat Pittsburgh in NCAA Tournament with two threes to send the game to OT.
"As soon as I saw Goheen with the ball and heading across the center line I thought we had a chance," junior Derrick Wilcox said. "He doesn't just do it in a game, he does it all the time in practice."
"I could see it was going in all the way. "He shot it just the way I taught him, " quipped Newton.
Vanderbilt erased a 16-point halftime deficit (47-31) to defeat arch-rival Tennessee and advance in the second round of the NIT on March 19, 1990. The win would help pave the way to Vanderbilt winning the NIT at Madison Square Garden.
In what was an improbable championship run for the Commodores, who lost nine of 12 games during one stretch of the season, it was their win against Tennessee that best defined their season.
For the second game in a row, Vanderbilt trailed its opponent by as many as 17 points in the first half. Against Tennessee, the Commodores trailed by this margin twice. Vanderbilt (18-14) made a 21-4 run in the first 7:28 of the second half to climb back into the game. Vanderbilt's comeback was completed when sophomore Todd Milholland sank a three-pointer with 12:33 to play to give the Commodores a 52-51 lead. It was Vanderbilt's first lead since the first basket of the game.
"It's a good thing there are two halves in a game," quipped Vanderbilt Head Coach Eddie Fogler. "It was an unbelievable game."
Derrick Wilcox scored a career-high 27 points and Milholland came off the bench and finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Vanderbilt would defeat New Orleans 88-65 in its next game to advance to the NIT semifinals. Scott Draud would later be named MVP of the NIT.
"Did I ever think we were out of it? Of course not," Wilcox said. "We knew we could do it. I just hope we don't have to keep doing it."
Tennessee's Allan Houston scored 31 points. After the Vols shot 70% in the first half, they made 40% of their shots int eh second half.
"This was a tough loss for us," Tennessee Head Coach Wade Houston said. "This was a tough loss for us."
"During halftime Coach Fogler told us that if we made a run we had to sustain it," Draud said. "We knew we were back in the game but we knew it was a long way from over."
Despite the sudden resignation of Head Coach Phil Lee and the suspension of three players, Vanderbilt Hall of Famer Wendy Scholtens refused to allow her final game with the Commodores to result in a loss. Trailing South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Scholtens (pictured) scored 16 points in the final 14 minutes to help lift Vanderbilt to the Sweet 16 with a 73-64 win on March 13, 1991.
Vanderbilt made just five of its first 24 shots and trailed 43-27 in the second half before outscoring South Carolina 26-8 in the final 7:35 of the game. Vanderbilt took its first lead with 2:11 to play on a pair of free throws by Jade Huntington. South Carolina did not score again.
"They were very physical on defense and kept us in trouble in the first half," said Scholtens, who was told after the game that her jersey would be retired.
The win came after the abrupt resignation of Lee and the suspensions of starters Misty Lamb and Shelly Jarrard and reserve Lesley Smith for minor NCAA infractions. Vanderiblt played only seven players in the game under interim coach Ada Gee.
"Our motivation was for the players who didn't get to play tonight and deserve the chance to be back with us," Huntington said. "They were with us the whole year and deserve to be back with us for another game."
Julie Powell had 15 points and six rebounds and an announced crowd of 2,200 watched the game.
"I won't sit here and tell you I wasn't nervous," Gee said. "What helped me a tremendous deal is I have so much confidence in this team."
It was an entertaining day at Memorial Gym on Jan. 14, 1993 when Vanderbilt ran up and down the court against Oral Roberts in a record-setting 124-58 win for the top-ranked Commodores.
Vanderbilt set a school record for points scored, three-pointers made (15) and assists (37).
"We were very unselfish tonight," Vanderbilt Head Coach Jim Foster said. "We moved the ball around well. This is a very unselfish group, a goal-oriented group and a team-oriented group."
Renee Allen broke the previous team scoring record for most in one game by making the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 1:49 to play in the game. Her first free throw tied the record and her second broke it to give Vanderbilt a a 115-53 lead.
With the win Vanderbilt improved to 14-0 to extend its best start in school history. Ten Commodores scored and six finished in double figures.
"We have a different mentality this season than I've seen on this team since I've been here," King said. "We're committed. That has made it enjoyable to come back for a fifth year."
The Commodores were paced by Lisa King, who totaled 20 points and nine rebounds.
"I was having fun out there," King said. "You have to have fun if you play the game. It's a long season. Why not have fun while you're out there."
For the first time in four seasons, Vanderbilt was back in the Sweet 16 after defeating No. 20 Colorado, 65-59, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 19, 2001.
Three players recorded double-doubles in the game for the Commodores. Chantelle Anderson scored 22 points and collected 10 rebounds, Zuzi Klimesova had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman Jennie Bennigfield scored 11 points and snagged 11 rebounds.
Colorado (22-9) led by as many as six points before the Commodores came back. The final tie was 48-48 before a hook shot by Klimesova put third-seeded Vanderbilt in front for good with 11:17 to play.
"We were spacewalking in the first half," Vanderbilt Head Coach Jim Foster said. "Playing a limited number of players like we do, they have to show up every night, mentally. We struggled for a while, but the biggest adjustment we made was that mentally we stepped up."
Vanderbilt improved to 23-9 with the win and would go on to defeat Iowa State to advance to the Elite Eight.
"People look at us and think we're a finesse team," Jim Foster said. "But we've rebounded, we've guarded people. I think we're more of a physical team than people give us credit for."
Anderson was on the bench with four fouls when Klimesova added a free throw, low-post bucket and a three-pointer to help put Vanderbilt up, 61-55, with 2:24 to play. Anderson sat on the bench for eight minutes because of foul trouble.
"When I went to the bench I was pretty disappointed," Chantelle Anderson said. "But this team is getting used to playing with me in foul trouble. I told Zuzi, `you've got me on this one.' She started scoring, posting up taking on their big girls. I was really proud of her."
The game was played in front of 4,392 fans that helped push Vanderbilt to victory.
"The crowd was great," Anderson said. "It helped a lot. It was a very emotional game, back and forth. We fed off their energy."
"It was nice to have that big a crowd without orange all over the place," Klimesova said.
Vanderbilt would hammer No. 24 LSU, 74-54, on Feb. 21, 2004, but this day will be remembered for something more historic. Perry Wallace, the first African-American varsity basketball player in the SEC had his No. 25 jersey retired in a special halftime ceremony.
At the time, Wallace was just the third player in school history to have his jersey retired, joining Clyde Lee and Wendy Scholtens. Chantelle Anderson would have her jersey retired in 2011.
The day was declared "Perry Wallace Day" by the Nashville Metro Council in recognition of his return to campus.
"I'm very proud," Wallace said. "If someone had beaten on me from the first day to the last it would have been worth it. Here I am: a lawyer, a professor. Most of my students and colleagues are white. I make a good living. I am a lot smarter and know how to live in this world. Every day I benefit from having made sacrifices to be part of that venture. I reap."
The jersey retirement came before a crowd of 13,892 that saw Matt Freije score 22 points and Dawid Przybyszewski drop in a season-high 21 points. But the game was secondary this day.
"The most exciting thing to happen to our team (yesterday) was not this game," Stallings said. "Perry Wallace came in and talked to our team, and there were about 25 people riveted for about 35 or 40 minutes. ... It was absolutely one of the finest moments I've experienced as a college basketball coach."
Recap & Highlights | Box Score | Russell's Photos
For the first time in school history, Tennessee earned a No. 1 ranking following its win at then-No. 1 Memphis on a Saturday night. But just one day after Tennessee climbed to the top of the rankings for the first time in school history, Vanderbilt was there to make sure Volunteers' time spent at No. 1was as short-lived as possible as the Commodores defeated Tennessee 72-69 on Feb. 26, 2008.
"It's special," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "We needed a win. It was a home game. It's a big game for them. You want to win any game, but you certainly want to win big games. This was a big game."
Vanderbilt's win was its sixth all-time against a No. 1 team at Memorial Gym as the Commodores improved to 6-3 all-time in home games against top-ranked foes. It was also Vanderbilt's fourth straight win over a No. 1 ranked team at home. The Commodores defeated No. 1 Florida at home the previous season.
"Tonight was different," senior Shan Foster said. "Last season, we were facing the defending national champions. This season, we lost to Tennessee by a big margin at their place and wanted to win badly. This season's game was more important."
A three-pointer by Alan Metcalfe with 14:20 to play broke a 43-all tie and VU never trailed again. Shan Foster scored 32 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including six threes to lead the No. 18/14 Commodores. Vanderbilt snapped Tennessee's nine-game winning streak and improved to 24-4 on the season and 9-4 in the SEC. Tennessee fell to 25-3 overall and 11-2 in the SEC. It was the first time the two teams met in Nashville as ranked teams since 1968.
"It's an honor," Foster said. "Coach Stallings told us that people go their entire career without facing the best team in the nation, so we knew how important this game was. We prepared well for the game."
With the win, the Commodores improved to 18-0 at home and had won 31 of its last 32 home games. It was Vanderbilt's seventh straight win as the Commodores moved into a tie with Kentucky for second in the SEC East, one game behind the Vols with three games to play.
"Our place was electric tonight," Stallings said. "This is one of the great places in college basketball on game night and our crowd was absolutely unbelievable."
Jermaine Beal added 17 points and Alex Gordon 11 for Vanderbilt.
A key to Vanderbilt winning was its defense on Tennessee's Wayne Chism who had 18 points and 18 rebounds in Vanderbilt's previous loss in Knoxville (80-60). On this night, he was held to four points and four rebounds. Chris Lofton led UT with 25 points.
"Foster is a great player and a great shooter," Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl said. "He had six threes and got to the foul line obviously. He stepped up in a huge way."
Recap | Box Score | Howell's Photos | Highlights
Never has Vanderbilt scored more points against Tennessee than it did on Feb. 2, 2012 when the Commodores defeated the 11th-ranked Lady Vols, 93-79, before a crowd of 12,034.
Vanderbilt had dropped 23 of its previous 24 meetings against Tennessee, but this night would belong to the Commodores. Energized by a vocal crowd, Vanderbilt scorched the nets to a tune of 55.7% and had four players score in double figures.
Tiffany Clarke scored 23 points, Christina Foggie scored 22 and Stephanie Holzer had 19. Jasmine Lister (pictured) had her first double-double with 19 points and career-high 13 assists.
"We weren't all on, but we were pretty hot, most of us," Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb said. "Foggie hitting her threes, Jazz (Jasmine) her pull, Steph and Tiff being unstoppable on the block; that was tough to defend."
With the win Vanderbilt improved to 19-5 overall and 7-4 in the SEC. Tennessee fell to 17-7 overall and 8-3 in the SEC.
"I just didn't think we brought the energy early on, and we didn't sustain our runs," Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt said on her post game radio show. "Really just a big, big disappointment. Vanderbilt 93, Tennessee 79. That says everything."
Vanderbilt led for most of the game, but an 18-4 run by Tennessee gave the Lady Vols a 54-52 lead with 9:36 to play. The lead was its first since 6-5, but Vanderbilt roared back with a 17-2 run to put the game away for good.
"It feels good to have a team that is as happy as they are right now and had the fight and determination after they lost the lead to turn it around," Balcomb said. "I just enjoy watching them be so happy. I don't remember a Vanderbilt team that had so much fun playing so hard and that is a good feeling."
The 93 points scored were the most in series history by the Commodores, besting the previous high of 88 in a 2004 loss. Vanderbilt dominated the paint, outscoring Tennessee 52-28 inside.
The crowd in attendance was the 12th largest in school history and the biggest since 2008. A large part of the environment was created by the students who came out in force. Many arrived early, hoping to be among the first 1,000 to be rewarded with priority seating for ESPN GameDay and Saturday's men's basketball game.
"The crowd tonight was just awesome and the environment was the best it has been since I've been here as well," Balcomb said. "The students coming out means everything to this program and the environment and the atmosphere. If the students came to every game like that, we wouldn't lose a game at home. That is such an incredible environment. "They made a huge difference in this game because when we got tired, we got energy from our crowd."
Credit: Nashville Banner, Tennessean, Dynamite! 75 Years of Vanderbilt Basketball (Roy M. Neel), DVD: 50 Years of Memorial Magic
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