The last three top-ranked basketball teams to enter Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium limped out with a loss.
Another opportunity to slay the giant awaits the Commodores on Tuesday when Tennessee comes to town.
The Volunteers, fresh off Saturday’s 66-62 win at top-ranked Memphis, are expected to vault into the No. 1 spot this afternoon when the national rankings are released.
VU coach Kevin Stallings isn’t sure if his team is up to the task.
“They’re awfully good,” he said of the Vols. “I don’t know if we’re ready for that yet or not. We’ll have to find out on Tuesday.”
Surging Vanderbilt, ranked No. 20, will likely climb higher after defeating Georgia 86-74 on Saturday to extend its winning streak to six games.
While UT is the current rage of college basketball, the Commodores are licking their chops by playing at home.
“We’ll take our chances at home against anybody in the country,” VU swingman Shan Foster said. “Our crowd is great. They come and bring that intensity every single game.”
Memorial Gym’s death-trap reputation was enhanced last season when the Commodores shellacked top-ranked Florida 83-70. Still fresh in the memories of many VU fans are victories in 1993 victory over Kentucky and in 1987 win over North Carolina. Those wins knocked No. 1 teams from their perches.
In addition, many current Commodores have tasted success against quality opponents. Last season, Vanderbilt knocked off seven ranked opponents, a school record for one season.
“I think that’s going to play a huge part in this game coming up,” Foster said.
VU buried Georgia on Saturday by shooting 63 percent from the field in the second half after trailing by one point at halftime. Foster led the way with 29 points.
Vanderbilt guard Alex Gordon hit a career-high seven 3-pointers and tossed in 23 points, the most he’s scored in a game since getting 30 against Tennessee as a freshman.
While Stallings has been pleased with many facets of his team’s play during the current winning streak, he’s still looking for more improvement.
“As a coach, you always want more,” he said. “I’d like to be Mr. Gleeful and jolly, but there are too many things I still see that have to be bettered. There are too many dips. As a coach, what you want is consistency. You want to know what to expect.
“We’re getting there. We’re better than we were a month ago.”
Will it be enough against the red-hot Vols?
“We’re going to have to on top of our game,” Foster said. “We feel like we have the weapons in order to have a chance to win that game. If we play with that edge that Coach Stallings talks about, we’ll be fine.”
GOLD NUGGETS: VU’s 23 wins equals the most in a season under Stallings and ties for the second-most in school history. The record is 25 set in 1992-93. …The Commodores have won 45 games over the last two seasons, the most victories over a two-year the 1992-93 and 1993-94 teams won 48. …Seventeen homes wins this season is the most by a Vanderbilt team since Memorial Gym was opened in 1952. The previous record was 16 set in 1964-65. …With 29 points Saturday, Foster pushed his career total to 1,841, 51 away from surpassing Matt Freije as Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer. Foster also made three 3-pointers to bring his season total to 101, two shy of the single-season school record.