Are No. 1 Vols heading into a Memorial trap?

Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 11:50pm

The last three top-ranked basketball teams to enter Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium limped out with a loss.

Another opportunity to slay the giant awaits the Commodores on Tuesday when Tennessee comes to town.

The Volunteers, fresh off Saturday’s 66-62 win at top-ranked Memphis, are expected to vault into the No. 1 spot this afternoon when the national rankings are released.

VU coach Kevin Stallings isn’t sure if his team is up to the task.

“They’re awfully good,” he said of the Vols. “I don’t know if we’re ready for that yet or not. We’ll have to find out on Tuesday.”

Surging Vanderbilt, ranked No. 20, will likely climb higher after defeating Georgia 86-74 on Saturday to extend its winning streak to six games.

While UT is the current rage of college basketball, the Commodores are licking their chops by playing at home.

“We’ll take our chances at home against anybody in the country,” VU swingman Shan Foster said. “Our crowd is great. They come and bring that intensity every single game.”

Memorial Gym’s death-trap reputation was enhanced last season when the Commodores shellacked top-ranked Florida 83-70. Still fresh in the memories of many VU fans are victories in 1993 victory over Kentucky and in 1987 win over North Carolina. Those wins knocked No. 1 teams from their perches.

In addition, many current Commodores have tasted success against quality opponents. Last season, Vanderbilt knocked off seven ranked opponents, a school record for one season.

“I think that’s going to play a huge part in this game coming up,” Foster said.

VU buried Georgia on Saturday by shooting 63 percent from the field in the second half after trailing by one point at halftime. Foster led the way with 29 points.

Vanderbilt guard Alex Gordon hit a career-high seven 3-pointers and tossed in 23 points, the most he’s scored in a game since getting 30 against Tennessee as a freshman.

While Stallings has been pleased with many facets of his team’s play during the current winning streak, he’s still looking for more improvement.

“As a coach, you always want more,” he said. “I’d like to be Mr. Gleeful and jolly, but there are too many things I still see that have to be bettered. There are too many dips. As a coach, what you want is consistency. You want to know what to expect.

“We’re getting there. We’re better than we were a month ago.”

Will it be enough against the red-hot Vols?

“We’re going to have to on top of our game,” Foster said. “We feel like we have the weapons in order to have a chance to win that game. If we play with that edge that Coach Stallings talks about, we’ll be fine.”

GOLD NUGGETS: VU’s 23 wins equals the most in a season under Stallings and ties for the second-most in school history. The record is 25 set in 1992-93. …The Commodores have won 45 games over the last two seasons, the most victories over a two-year the 1992-93 and 1993-94 teams won 48. …Seventeen homes wins this season is the most by a Vanderbilt team since Memorial Gym was opened in 1952. The previous record was 16 set in 1964-65. …With 29 points Saturday, Foster pushed his career total to 1,841, 51 away from surpassing Matt Freije as Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer. Foster also made three 3-pointers to bring his season total to 101, two shy of the single-season school record.

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By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This year Memorial Gym is not capable of becoming a trap. Much to my chagrin.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

GO VANDY!

By: JC on 12/31/69 at 6:00

not capable?huh?

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Vandy is lucky this game is at home, they can't beat a decent team on the road.

By: jwk6179 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Just the other day, all the OBNOXIOUS, LOUD-MOUTH VANDY FANS were on the radio spouting off that after Tuesday night, UT will have as many loses as Vandy does and they won't even be the third best team in the state. I say after Tuesday night, Vandy will have three more loses than UT and that Vandy won't even be the forth best team in the STATE of TENNESSEE!!!

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Vandy might not win, but they have a very good team and do have a have a very good chance. The last three teams to come in ranked #1, lost.

By: bobspann on 12/31/69 at 6:00

UT has already won the battle of the big-mouth fans. Let's see who wins the real battle Tuesday nightBig Vandy Dandy

By: probert2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Should be a good game. Both have good teams win or loose this next one. Hope they both get good seeds in the tournament. But I'm born and raised Nashvllian, I support the home teams. GO, VANDY!

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Let the Vol fans have their time. They haven't been good in basketball in about the same amount of time that Vandy has been bad at football. I hope we are not as obnoxious as they are when the tables are turned. What am I saying? Of course we won't. It's not humanly possible.

By: snfrank on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thank you to bobspann for getting real about where the allegiances of the loud-mouthed fans lie.I don't think many people expected to see Tennessee beat Memphis, so congratulations to UT for the victory.Fortunately, every time the players suit up it's a new game, and I'm excited to see what happens tomorrow evening.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

probert2, exactly the way I am. Home town all the way!