for this game

Vanderbilt holds off Florida rally

Feb 17, 2008 - 2:39 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Vanderbilt survived its own offensive struggles to stay perfect at home.

Shan Foster scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half as the No. 19 Commodores squandered a big lead before overcoming Florida, 61-58, in the Southeastern Conference on Saturday.

Alex Gordon hit four clutch free throws in the final 24 seconds to help Vanderbilt (22-4, 7-4 SEC East) improve to 16-0 at home and avenge a 20-point loss to the Gators earlier in the season.

"I don't know about this being a revenge game, but more so than anything, we wanted to come out and prove that we were a totally different team than we were when we came out and played them the first time," Foster said. "I felt like in the first game we had way too many turnovers. They kind of punked us a little bit, especially on the boards, and we were just playing a little bit out of our character."

It was the fifth consecutive victory for the Commodores, who built a 12-point second-half lead but failed to score a field goal over the final seven minutes.

Dan Werner scored inside to cap a 16-3 run and give Florida (19-7, 6-5) a 56-55 lead with 1:26 to play.

From there, the final eight points were scored at the foul line - six by Vandy - which was somewhat ironic since neither team attempted a free throw until less than 8 1/2 minutes remained in the contest.

"Just clutch. Being in that situation against Florida - I'm from Florida, so I just smiled," said Gordon of his decisive free throws. "I just knew I was going to make them. My teammates believed in me and just told me to go to the line and win the game for them. Fortunately, I was able to knock them down."

After Foster hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Commodores a 47-39 lead, Andre Walker connected from the arc to hike the margin to 52-40 with 7:13 remaining.

Walker's 3-pointer culminated a 22-7 run that featured five 3-pointers by Vanderbilt.

"We had a good start to the second half offensively and that helped us," Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said. "I didn't anticipate that we would get away from them, I expected the game to be close throughout."

Gordon and freshman A.J. Ogilvy had 12 points apiece for the Commodores, who beat Florida for just the third time in the past 16 meetings.

Freshman Nick Calathes and Marreese Speights scored 11 points apiece for the Gators, who finished just 1-of-15 from the arc and missed a pair of tying 3-point attempts in the final 10 seconds.

"We really continue to struggle to shoot the ball - 1-15 from the 3-point line - coming into a place like that and shooting that type of percentages usually would lead to a complete blowout," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "But I think our guys made plays inside the game that really affected the outcome of the game and gave us a chance to get back in it."

Neither team distinguished itself during a plodding first half which featured zero free throws attempts and a total of just four personal fouls.

Florida generated the only sustained offensive burst with a 10-0 run to take a 16-10 lead on a layup by Hodge with 11:47 to play.

However, the Gators went nearly six minutes without scoring, allowing Vanderbilt to forge a 20-20 tie with 2:19 left following back-to-back baskets by Ogilvy.

"Coach talks about that all the time once we realized that we had a lot of weapons and that we aren't going to be able to shoot 50 percent from the field," Foster said. "On those nights when things aren't going as well, it's your defense that will pick you up, and fortunately enough for us, we were able to do that tonight."