for this game

Foster, Vanderbilt pull away from Tennessee State

Dec 23, 2007 - 6:41 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Vanderbilt overcame a sluggish start and a hot-shooting freshman from Tennessee State to stay unbeaten.

Shan Foster had 22 points and 12 rebounds and Alex Gordon scored 16 as the 17th-ranked Commodores posted an 83-74 victory over Tennessee State on Saturday.

After shooting below 40 percent in the first half, Vanderbilt (11-0) connected on 58 percent (15-of-26) after halftime en route to its seventh home win of the season.

"We feel that down the stretch when the game is close that we're the best team in the country," Foster said. "We've proven that throughout the season. We were able to get it done tonight."

Trailing by two at the break, the Commodores took a brief lead early in the second half before Gerald Robinson Jr. momentarily took over for the Tigers.

The Tennessee State freshman scored the first 20 points for the Tigers after intermission, going 7-of-7 from the floor in the opening 7:33 of the second half. He finished the burst with an 11-0 run by himself that provided Tennessee State with a 55-47 advantage with 12:27 remaining.

"He's phenomenal," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "He made some great shots. Towards the end of the game, he missed some shots that the entire building thought were going to go down."

Bruce Price made one free throw to give Tennessee State a nine-point lead with under 12 minutes to play before Vanderbilt responded. Gordon made consecutive 3-pointers to start an 18-4 run that was capped by Foster's shot from the arc for a 65-60 advantage with 7:33 to play.

The Tigers came back to tie the game at 65-65, but the Commodores took control and opened up a 78-70 lead on Darshawn McClellan's layup with 1:59 left.

"Our mentality coming into the season has helped us keep this streak going," Gordon said. "We try to get better every day and every game. We struggled at times tonight, but we'll practice and get better."

Robinson finished with 24 points and Brice had 19 and five steals for the Tigers (3-7), who have lost six of their last seven.

Tennessee State opened up an early 20-15 lead when Jerrell Houston made a 3-pointer with 11:12 left in the first half.

Keegan Bell's free throw gave the Commodores a one-point lead with over three minutes left in the first, but the Tigers rallied to take a 35-33 lead at the break.

"We feel we let one slip away from us tonight," Tigers coach Cy Alexander said. "We had a great week of practice in preparation for tonight's game. We're trying to keep these kids mentally focused and continue to remind them that we're 1-1 in our conference and playing these types of games will make us better."

A.J. Ogilvy scored 16 points for Vanderbilt, which shot 10-of-17 from the arc for the game and outrebounded Tennessee State, 44-30.

The 11-0 start is the best for Vanderbilt since the 2003-04 campaign when the Commodores won its first 12 games to start the season.

"We try to take it one game at a time," Foster said. "We don't look forward at all. We're just focused on our next game. Once you start looking forward, you forget some important things like improving our defense. That's our number one priority when we return to practice."