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December 2, 2006
2006 in review: January and February
In the first of several installments, VandySports.com takes a look back at the notable happenings in Commodore football, baseball and men's basketball over the last year.
Today's installment looks at the key happenings from January and February, including links back to our stories of those notable events.
January 10: Despite shooting just 34 percent, the Commodore basketball team wins 57-52 over Kentucky in Rupp Arena.. It is the first VU win ever in Rupp since the building opened in 1976.
Four Vanderbilt players score in double-figures, including DeMarre Carroll, who pours in 15 points and pulls down 11 rebounds in 27 minutes. Vandy seizes the lead early, and holds on with some clutch play down the stretch to run its record to 12-2 and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
January 18: South Carolina, behind 29 points from Tre Kelley, shocks Vanderbilt 66-64 in Nashville in an overtime thriller. The Commodores twice blow double-digit leads, then watch Kelley drive the length of the court in overtime for a game-winning layup in the contest's final seconds.
The Gamecocks came in 0-3 in the league, with losses to Ole Miss and Georgia. Kelley averaged just 10.7 points a game before his breakout performance.
Vandy's defeat comes on the heels of a loss at Arkansas, as the team drops to 2-2 in the league.
January 21 The football team gets a commitment from three-star South Carolina athlete D. J. Moore. Moore, who had been impressive at South Carolina's Shrine Bowl, is recruited as a cornerback. He'll start most of his freshman season for the Commodores at cornerback and make a significant impact on special teams as well.
February 1: Twenty five high school football players sign letters of intent with Vanderbilt on national signing day. The class includes seven players rated as three-star recruits by Rivals.com, and is generally regarded as Vandy's best class in a decade.
All signees make it to campus except Washington three-star offensive lineman Chris Bush and Charlott tight end Austin Monahan. Bush will later fail a math class that prevents his admittance to Vanderbilt, and is released to sign with Washington State. Monahan heads to prep school for an extra year of seasoning, and makes plans to report to Vanderbilt in 2007.
Also on this night, Tennessee defeats Vanderbilt 69-62 in hoops in Vol coach Bruce Pearl's first game against the Commodores. Vandy out-rebounds the Vols by 10, but the Vols hit 23-of-32 foul shots, while VU hits just two-of-five behind the charity stripe.
February 4: In what former Commodore great Barry Booker would later term, , Vandy drops a 74-73 heartbreaker to Georgia in Nashville. Vanderbilt fought back to erase a double-digit lead, but Georgia's Sundiata Gaines tipped in his own miss with 18 seconds left for the game's final bucket.
The loss is Vanderbilt's third in a row, and fifth in six games.
February 7: After Mario Moore scores just nine points on four-of-23 shooting during the three-game losing streak, coach Kevin Stallings announces that the senior guard will be taking a "medical leave of absence" in a prepared statement released through the university. Moore, a preseason all-SEC candidate who topped the 1,000 point mark as a junior, was not available for comment and later, will be declared "off-limits" to the media the remainder of the season.
Earlier, Moore had been suspended for an exhibition game and for the team's first two regular-season games after an undisclosed violation of team rules. In December of 2005, he hit a game-winning 40-footer to beat Oregon at the buzzer, but never was able to give Vanderbilt consistent production from that time until the leave of absence.
February 8: The Commodores play well at Alabama, but come up short, falling 77-74 at Alabama. It's the fourth loss in a row for Vandy, and sixth in seven games, as the Commodores fall to 3-6.
Vandy appears to have a victory all but wrapped up in regulation, but the Tide's Jean Felix--who was 0-8 in three-point attempts--drained a three-pointer to put Alabama up one in the game's final minute.
Shan Foster hit a long three to give Vandy a two-point lead with 2.3 seconds left, and when Alabama threw a long pass down court on the ensuing possession, it appeared the Commodores had the pass defended.
But 'Bama's Richard Hendrix was able to get the pass and get it to a cutting Alonzo Gee, who dunked the ball at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. In the extra period, the Commodores' long-bombers go cold, as Dan Cage missed a shot at the buzzer that would have tied the game.
February 10: Football recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach David Turner leaves Vanderbilt for a similar position at Alabama. The move is perceived as a step up the career ladder for Turner, but ironically, he's out of a job nine months later when coach Mike Shula is fired after a 6-6 season.
VandySports.com identifies Ricky Logo as a leading candidate for the job, and weeks later, the former Troy assistant replaces Turner on the VU staff.
February 11: Once again, Kentucky brings out the best in Vanderbilt, as the Commodores beat UK 84-81 in Nashville for a rare season sweep of the Wildcats . Carroll has 22 points and 12 rebounds, leading four Vandy players in double-digit scoring.
The Commodores shoot 59 percent for the game, and after recovering from blowing a long-held lead midway through the second half, nearly blow a 10-point lead with 1:28 remaining. With the Commodores up just three, UK's Rajon Rondo steals the ball from Vandy's Alex Gordon at mid-court, and appears headed for a layup to cut the lead to one.
The Commodores appear headed for disaster as Gordon, who had fallen to the floor, intentionally fouls Rondo, giving him two shots and Kentucky subsequent possession of the ball. But the UK point guard, a poor foul shooter, misses both shots, and Ramel Bradley's desperation three-pointer misses the mark as time expires.
February 17: It's the moment that Commodore baseball fans have long waited for: the debut of the nation's No. 1-ranked recruiting class, with all-American David Price on the mound for Vandy in the season opener against a quality San Diego team.
The day could hardly have been more disappointing. Price is shelled for seven runs in four-plus innings, and the new Commodores look completely inept at the plate against Josh Butler, who will eventually become Tampa Bay's second-round pick in the June draft, as Vandy loses 10-0 in a tournament hosted by the University of Southern California on Friday afternoon.
Vandy defeats USC the following day, but loses the Sunday game of the classic in extra innings to a Kansas team that will make the NCAA tournament in May.
February 24: Some days, it's better to be lucky than good. With the Commodore bats colder than the winter weather, Vandy catches a break in a 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh when Panther hurler Kyle Landis balks in Matt Meingasner with the winning run from third in the twelfth inning.
February 25: Moore returns to the team after missing five games, and Vandy avenges the earlier loss to South Carolina,