Streak continues for VU hoops squad

Monday, December 24, 2007 at 1:11am

The streak continues.

Trailing by nine points midway through the second half, 17th-ranked Vanderbilt rallied for an 83-74 victory over Tennessee State on Saturday at Memorial Gym.

At 11-0, the Commodores are one win away from matching the 2003-04 VU team, which crafted a school-best 12-0 start.

Vanderbilt has walked the tightrope several times this season but remains unscathed.

While tipping his hat to his team’s resiliency, VU coach Kevin Stallings will be looking for improvement when the Commodores return to action after the Christmas break with a home game against Tennessee-Martin on Dec. 29.

“I don’t want to say it’s insignificant, because it’s important to us that we’ve been able to win each of our games thus far,” Stallings said. “What we need to be focused on is the process part of this, because the process part is what’s going to allow us to get better.”

Given an opportunity against Nashville' s dominant school, TSU gave the Commodores all they could handle Saturday.

Freshman guard and Nashville native Gerald Robinson was splendid, scoring all of the Tigers’ 20 points to start the second half before finishing with 24.

The Commodores were pushed to the edge and survived. Again.

“We knew we were going to take their best shot,” Stallings said. “This was their shot to beat the big boys on the block, and they came in and gave it a great effort.”

After squandering the lead, the Tigers were left to wonder what might have been.

“I told our team we lost the game when we had them down and didn't bury them,” Tennessee State coach Cy Alexander said. “This was the best game we've played all year, and this was against a Top 20 team.”

Vanderbilt has been in similar circumstances all season, including Dec. 12, when it came from 18 points down to post a 91-85 overtime win at DePaul.

Some how, some way, the Commodores have gotten a key defensive stop or nailed a clutch shot when it matters most.

“We’ve proven game after game, in tight situations, that we’re a poised and composed team,” said VU swingman Shan Foster, who scored 22 points against TSU. “We just get it done.”

Vanderbilt guard Alex Gordon said the team’s good fortune is not entirely by chance.

“Our mentality we’ve had coming into this season allows for us to keep this streak going,” he said. “We have a mentality of getting better every day and getting better every game.”

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