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January 13, 2007

VU can't keep momentum going, falls to Georgia

After losing to Auburn in its SEC opener, Vanderbilt made believers out of many doubters when it upset No. 16 Tennessee on Wednesday. Today, the doubters may be returning, as the Commodores lost to Georgia 85-73 in Athens.

Vanderbilt falls to 11-6 overall, and 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia improved to 10-5, and 2-1 in the conference.

Georgia led 67-65 with 5:36 remaining, when Humphrey started his late-game run. Two 3-pointers and a layup on three consecutive Georgia possessions, sandwiched by a Cage three, extended the Bulldogs' lead to 75-68 with 3:41 left.

A Stukes steal set up a 3 from his hand moments later, and then Georgia simply played out the clock, sinking seven of eight free throws down the stretch.

"That steal was the play that opened up our chance to win the game," said Georgia head coach Dennis Felton. "He held the ball and let 20 seconds click off the clock and we won."

Vanderbilt hung tough against the favored Bulldogs, largely on the back of Derrick Byars' 23 points and Dan Cage's 17.

But VU got almost nothing from its much-critiqued frontcourt, especially defensively. Alan Metcalfe and Ted Skuchas did not attempt a foul shot, and added a combined two points. Fifth year senior Skuchas, standing 7-feet, also did not have a rebound.

Georgia's Dave Bliss entered the game averaging just three points a game, but finished with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Vandy's Ross Neltner led all players on the boards with nine, but scored just five points with three turnovers.

After having their way on the glass against Tennessee, Vanderbilt was out-rebounded by Georgia 43-33.

The Bulldogs entered the game as the league's best outside shooting team, and did nothing to change that statistic today. Guards Levi Stukes and Billy Humphrey combined for 39 points on 13-26 shooting, including 8-17 from three. Mike Mercer (seven points) and Sundiata Gaines (nine points and seven assists) did the rest of the damage for UGA from outside.

Georgia shot a scorching 55 percent from the field. Felton's four main inside players -- Bliss, Rashaad Singleton, Takais Brown and Terrance Woodbury -- were a combined 13-17 from the field.

Byars led all scorers from the field, and was a perfect 5-5 from 3 in the first half. But after shooting 10-of-16 from three in the first half, Vanderbilt was just 3-of-16 in the second half.

Byars' wing teammate Shan Foster, who sank the buzzer beater against Tennessee, was just 3-13 from the field today, including 0-5 from three. As a team, Vanderbilt shot just 38 percent from the field, with 32 of their 70 attempts coming from 3.

Vanderbilt returns home for a Wednesday matchup against SEC West foe Alabama.

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