Vanderbilt hopes an extended layoff won’t cool off two of the SEC’s best players as it returns to action Saturday to host struggling Tennessee State.
The No. 17 Commodores (10-0) are off to their best start since 2003-04 when they opened 12-0, but they have not played since a 91-85 overtime win over DePaul on Dec. 12. They trailed by 12 at halftime - the first time this season they were behind at the break - and needed a rally to tie the game late in regulation.
Leading scorers Shan Foster and A.J. Ogilvy helped Vanderbilt take control in overtime. Ogilvy had a pair of dunks and Foster hit a key 3-pointer with 2:01 to play.
“We just have a fight in us,” said Foster, who finished with 19 points. “We went into the locker room saying we were going to fight regardless of what the score was, and we were just fortunate enough to get back in the game.”
Ogilvy had 19 points and nine rebounds for Vanderbilt, which shot 52.4 percent from the field and 12-of-25 from 3-point range.
While Ogilvy, a 6-foot-10 freshman from Australia, is developing into one of the SEC’s better big men, Foster is clearly among its best outside shooters.
Foster leads the conference with 20.3 points per game and Ogilvy is second with an average of 19.5 points while grabbing a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game.
Ogilvy, averaging 22.7 points over the last three games, is among the SEC leaders in field-goal shooting at 68.6 percent.
“I didn’t think he’d be this good,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “I guess when you’re good, you’re good. It doesn’t take much adjustment to anything.”
Foster is averaging 22.0 points in his last three games, shooting 60.0 percent from the field and 14-of-25 from 3-point range. He is among the SEC leaders in 3-point shooting at 53.8 percent, and Vanderbilt is making an SEC-best 44.4 percent.
Foster and Ogilvy have helped the Commodores score at least 90 points in five of the last six games. The team is among the nation’s top 10 in scoring at 86.4 points per game.
Vanderbilt begins a six-game homestand Saturday looking to take advantage of a Tennessee State team which is among the worst teams in the nation defensively, allowing an average of 82.7 points.
The Tigers (3-6) are playing the fifth of six consecutive road games, even though this one is being played not far from their campus in Nashville.
Their most recent game also was in Nashville, but they lost 82-71 at crosstown rival Belmont on Monday.
Gerald Robinson Jr. had 19 points and Tigers leading scorer Bruce Price added 18 for Tennessee State, which has lost five of six. Its run of six straight road games ends next Sunday at Illinois.
Vanderbilt is the second ranked opponent the Tigers have faced during this stretch. They lost 84-72 to then-No. 15 Indiana on Dec. 3.
The Commodores have won all five meetings with Tennessee State and each game was played at Memorial Gym, where Vandy is 6-0 this season. The Tigers lost 87-65 in the most recent matchup in 2004.