Ogilvy scores 27, Foster 26 to lead Vanderbilt past Auburn in SEC tournament
ATLANTA (AP)—A.J. Ogilvy handled things on the inside. Shan Foster took care of the outside.
It proved to be a devastating 1-2 punch for Vanderbilt.
Ogilvy, a lumbering freshman from Australia, scored a career-best 27 points and Foster was right behind with 26, leading the 18th-ranked Commodores past Auburn 93-82 in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday.
Vanderbilt (26-6) shot 67 percent (33 of 49) from the field, falling just short of the tournament record. The Commodores advanced to face Arkansas in the quarterfinals Friday.
Ogilvy, a 6-foot-11 center who towered over the Tigers, teamed with Foster to provide an unstoppable inside-outside punch for the Commodores. The big man made 12 of 13 shots, nearly all of them gimmes after he got loose underneath. He did step out to hit one long jumper with his foot on the 3-point line.
Foster, the SEC’s top scorer and named player of the year by the league’s coaches earlier in the week, handled most of the outside shooting. The 6-6 senior connected on 6 of 9 from beyond the arc to add another notch to his brilliant season, giving him at least 20 points in six straight games and 19 overall.
“We really made an emphasis with our team not to take quick 3s, and make a few extra passes and see if we could put the ball in A.J.’s hands,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “As a result, not only did A.J. touch it more but Shan touched it more.”
Vanderbilt built a double-digit lead 5 1/2 minutes into the game, and was comfortably out front most of the first half with the Big Two leading the way. Foster had 19 points and Ogilvy 14 by halftime.
Auburn (14-16) will miss out on a postseason berth for the fifth year in a row. The Tigers got a taste of what they were in for right from the start.
Ogilvy scored on his first three shots, then Foster swished a 3. After Ogilvy slipped inside for another easy basket, Alex Gordon connected on a 3 that made it 14-4 and forced Tigers coach Jeff Lebo to call a quick timeout.
“I got a couple of good looks and I felt like I pretty much played myself into a good position,” Ogilvy said.
The Tigers simply didn’t have anyone who could guard the Vanderbilt center, who was 3 inches taller than anyone in their two-forward, three-guard lineup.
“It was hard for our kids against Ogilvy,” Lebo said. “He is savvy and he has size. It reminds me of playing in the backyard against my 6-year-old son. I can beat him anytime I want to.”
The Commodores shot 76 percent in the first half and tailed off just a bit over the final 20 minutes. They would have broken the tournament mark for field-goal percentage in a game if not for a botched dunk by little-used George Drake in the final minute with the outcome already decided.
Kentucky still holds the record (68.3 percent) from its 101-100 victory over Alabama in 1979.
Vanderbilt is trying to improve on a mostly dismal history in the SEC tournament, which included six losses in seven previous meetings against Auburn. The Commodores’ lone championship came in 1951—the only time they have reached the final.
Auburn, which trailed 47-36 at halftime, closed to 61-56 on a 3-pointer by Lucas Hargrove with 11 1/2 minutes remaining. But Vanderbilt scored the next 10 points to put it away, with Foster contributing a jumper and a layup before Gordon capped the spurt with two free throws.
Rasheem Barrett scored 20 points to lead four Auburn players in double figures. Senior Frank Barrett chipped in with 17 before fouling out of his final college game with less than a minute to go.
The Tigers also lost Quan Prowell to fouls. He picked up his fifth with nearly 12 minutes remaining in a futile attempt to block a shot by Ross Neltner.
“When Quan went out, our whole front line was gone,” Lebo said. “We were fatigued. We couldn’t manufacture anything easy.”
Vanderbilt looked downright fresh, despite going to overtime in its final two regular season games. Gordon had 14 points and Neltner 10 to add a little balance to the Commodores’ offense.
But Ogilvy was the one who really made things tough on the Tigers.
“Vandy’s game plan was fairly simple,” Lebo said. “They went inside on us. Ogilvy scored a ton in there.”