Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Close, but no...

Vanderbilt gave a valiant effort in its 86-76 loss at South Carolina Wednesday night, but found out you’re not going to win road games in the SEC by losing the turnover and free throw battles by significant margins.

The Gamecocks converted 22 Commodore miscues into 25 points and also outscored VU by 11 at the foul line on 49 attempts. Both statistics ultimately made the difference in the final outcome, sending Vanderbilt (12-8, 1-5 SEC) to its fourth straight loss in SEC play.

"It was a very physical game on both ends of the floor,” said freshman Jeffery Taylor, who had a career-high 23 points but was one of three Commodores to foul out. “I guess we never really adjusted to how the game was called."

Give Vanderbilt credit for charging back to take the lead with a 16-3 run to start the second half after trailing 42-30. Junior George Drake also contributed another solid effort, scoring a career-best 18 points to make it three straight games for him in double figures.

At the end of the day, it's still another mark in the loss column. And sure, it would be easy to point to the team’s health problems and youthfulness as the main factors for the current skid, but you won’t hear any excuses like that coming from the Commodores' locker room.

"Our players have great character and they're not guys that are going to give in,” head coach Kevin Stallings said. “They're going to keep fighting. I feel terrible for them right now because I want to help them get back in the win column. They're fighting and practicing hard and continuing to have great attitudes. If they do that, we'll come out of this at some point."

Vanderbilt will hit the road once more with a 1 p.m. CT tilt at Auburn Saturday.

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