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Byars leads Vanderbilt to season sweep of Kentucky

Feb 26, 2007 - 4:28 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Derrick Byars made sure Vanderbilt extended its winning streak over Kentucky.

Byars scored 26 points - 21 in the second half - and Shan Foster chipped in 21 and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Commodores to a 67-65 victory over Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky.

Vanderbilt (19-9, 9-5 SEC East), which beat the Wildcats for the fourth straight time, went into the half down, 32-23, but Byars and Foster took over right away in the second half.

"We kind of challenged Derrick at halftime," Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said. "We didn't think he had one of his better first halves. I want to try and remember exactly what I said because he was pretty spectacular in the second half. It was a great game and certainly could have gone either way and we felt good about making the plays down the stretch."

Byars scored 11 straight points over the first four minutes and Foster scored 13 of the Commodores' next 18 points, capped off by a pair of free throws with 8:17 left that forged the first tie of the game, 54-54.

Vanderbilt didn't grab its first lead until Byars grabbed his own rebound of a missed free throw and hit a five-footer to make it 66-65 with 27 seconds to play.

"It was the biggest play of the game," Byar said. "I missed a free throw and Dan Cage tapped it out to me. I saw Randolph (Morris) down there and he beat me earlier so I just wanted to get it up quick."

Ramel Bradley missed a jumper on the Wildcats' last possesion.

"I am really proud of our team," Stallings said. "I thought we got ourselves up against it a little bit. They put us up against it. The first 20 minutes I thought they were awesome. We came out in the second half and got it going offensively a little bit."

Kentucky (19-9, 8-6 East) looked lost for most of the second half, committing three shot-clock violations and finishing with 22 turnovers.

"It was just a tough, tough loss," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "It's just very disappointing when you can't make the plays down the stretch, don't get stops like you should, and you don't value the basketball. The turnovers really hurt us. When you turn it over 22 times, it's just very disappointing.

"We had chances to put the game away, but you have to make stops and take care of the ball. I know I keep talking about it. I thought we came out focused and ready to play, but it only takes a couple of breakdowns to get beat."

Bobby Perry scored 18 points to lead the Wildcats. Center Morris was held to just four points on 1-of-5 shooting.

The win gives Vanderbilt sole possesion of second place in the SEC East and the inside track on a bye for the conference tournament with two regular season games to play.

"A lot of teams are fighting to get into the tournament and playing their best basketball," Foster said. "To know you can get it done at the end does wonders for your confidence. I looked at the clock with four minutes left and, even with the game being as close as it was, there was no doubt on our team that we were going to win."