March 3, 2004
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Matt Freije scored 19 of his 28 points in the second half and Vanderbilt rallied to beat Tennessee 61-58 Wednesday night at Memorial Gym.
The Commodores (19-7, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, but Freije took over after halftime and made a 3-pointer with 1:58 left that proved to be the difference.
After Russell Lakey scored less than a minute into the second half, Freije scored all of Vanderbilt's next 13 points. That stretch included a 10-0 run that cut Tennessee's lead to 48-45 with 9:04 remaining.
Freije converted a three-point play that trimmed the lead to a point with 3:40 to go.
Tennessee's Brandon Crump scored at the other end, but Freije got a rebound off his own missed 3 that led to Corey Smith's 3-pointer, which tied it at 53.
Then it was Freije again with another 3-pointer -- his fifth of the game -- that gave the Commodores a 56-55 lead with 1:58, their first lead since 3-2.
Tennessee (14-12, 6-9), which finished the regular-season 0-8 on the road in the SEC, melted in the final minute.
Lakey extended Vanderbilt's lead to three with a basket. Then, Crump was whistled for a foul when he knocked down Lakey, who was grabbing a loose rebound.
Freije ran over in front of the student section and yelled for the raucous fans to scream louder.
Lakey made the first of two free throws, and Scott Hundley sank two more free throws to seal it.
Scooter McFadgon's 3-pointer with seven seconds left was Tennessee's last gasp.
Smith finished with 12 points for the Commodores, who shot only 39 percent from the floor (20-of-51).
McFadgon led Tennessee with 13 points while C.J. Watson added 12 and Crump had 10.
In its final home game this season, Vanderbilt honored its four seniors with a pregame ceremony.
Vanderbilt's 19 wins this season matches the most since Kevin Stallings' first year as coach in 1999-2000, and the Commodores hope it will bolster their case for an NCAA tournament berth.
But they almost threw away the opportunity as Tennessee looked ready to get its first road win. The Vols haven't won an SEC road game since March 8, 2003, at Vanderbilt.
Tennessee used an 11-0 run to take its biggest lead of the first half at 26-12 with 6:40 remaining. Stanley Asumnu started the spurt with a dunk off a steal then had an easy basket inside and another slam.
Smith and Freije each hit a 3 to end the Commodores' scoreless stretch and begin a 10-0 run. Freije slammed in a rebound off Smith's missed jumper to cut it to 26-22 with 3:57 left before halftime. Vanderbilt trimmed it to three twice afterward but was down 35-30 at the buzzer.