Posted: Sunday, December 22nd 2013 at 12:00am
Vanderbilt rallies past Georgia Tech, 76-63
By The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings asked his players on Friday for a special gift this holiday season, and they delivered.
Rod Odom scored 18 points - including four 3-pointers - and Vanderbilt rallied from 14 points down in the first half to end Georgia Tech's three-game win streak 76-63 on Saturday.
"Coach told us that if we win today, it would be a present for him, that was the only gift he wanted," senior guard Kyle Fuller said. "Thankfully we got that W for him and he can go home happy, and we don't have to go to practice worrying about what's going to happen after Christmas."
It was the third straight victory for the Commodores (7-3) after a pair of two-point squeakers. It also marked their first win in 1 1/2 seasons over a team from a power conference.
Dai-Jon Parker added 13 points and a pair of treys, while Fuller scored 12 points to spark Vanderbilt off the bench for the second consecutive game.
"This made Christmas a lot happier for me," Stallings said. ". A couple of them walked by the door when we got into the locker room, and they said `Merry Christmas.' I told them I appreciated that. They made this Christmas a lot better for me because they played well. I think they made it a lot better for themselves too."
The Commodores completed a 29-point turnaround to take a 56-41 advantage with 10:21 left on Fuller's drive and subsequent assist to Luke Kornet. The Yellow Jackets scored only 10 points over a period of 17-plus minutes and were outscored 41-12 during the decisive run.
"Both teams were in similar situations, and they were able to hold on there and kind of rally the troops a little bit at the end of the first half and get back in the game," third-year Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to do the same."
Center Daniel Miller had 11 of his 16 points in the first half for the Yellow Jackets (8-4). But he went 27 minutes without a field goal, scoring his final five points in the last 3 minutes of the game. Miller, who has started all 105 games in his Georgia Tech career, finished with 10 rebounds.
Vanderbilt trimmed a 14-point deficit to 31-29 at halftime on a three-point in-bounds play from Fuller assisted by Parker.
"Coach brought us together, said we need to bring it down to seven," Fuller said. "We started locking in, buying in, everybody helping, everybody talking, playing defense and all of a sudden our offense started clicking."
The Commodores then opened the second half with a 9-2 run. Odom's second 3-pointer of the game put Vanderbilt ahead 34-33 for their first lead since 11-10, and the Commodores stretched it to 43-36 on five straight points by Fuller.
Solomon Poole (11 points) hit his third 3-pointer for Georgia Tech to pull within 43-39, but Shelby Moats sank a trey for Vanderbilt. The Commodores then pushed it out to 52-39 on Odom's jumper, Kornet's 2-of-3 free throws, and Eric McClellan's dunk after a steal.
"I can't remember us defending like that and scoring like that for as long a stretch as we did tonight," Odom said.
Odom, who missed only one of five shots behind the arc, hit two 3-pointers during an 11-4 spurt down the stretch to hold off the Yellow Jackets. Parker added his own 3-pointer to give Vanderbilt its largest lead at 71-54.
Miller extended the Yellow Jackets' advantage to 25-15 on a three-point play. Stacey Poole Jr. then had back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 29-15 on a 12-0 run.
"I thought there were stretches in the first half where we played exceptionally well, we moved the ball well, we got the ball inside, we made some extra passes," Gregory said.
But the Commodores went on a 14-2 spurt to close within 31-29 at halftime on Parker's 3-pointer and Fuller's three-point play for his first points.
"I don't know why, I don't know how, but we just stayed with it and our guys kept playing hard and they stopped playing as well and we started playing better," Stallings said.
Vanderbilt committed only nine turnovers for the game after having 19 turnovers in its last outing against Austin Peay on Tuesday. Fuller and Parker combined for nine of the team's 17 assists, and Moats made two steals.
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