Most of the talk in regard to Vanderbilt’s basketball team this season has focused on the many differences between the 2011-12 version.
One more revealed itself Thursday. Unlike most of the others, it was a good one.
Kyle Fuller led all players with a career-high 25 points in a 66-64 overtime victory over Xavier at Cincinnati. The junior guard scored all 12 of the Commodores’ points in the extra period after they rallied from 13 down early in the second half.
Last season Vanderbilt, which had three NBA draft picks and won the SEC Tournament, was 0-5 in overtime, including an 82-70 loss to Xavier at Memorial Gymnasium.
Fuller missed an opportunity to put this game out of reach when he failed to convert either of two free throw attempts with five seconds to play.
Xavier did not capitalize on the opportunity, though. Its last-second shot from well beyond the 3-point line missed.
Although Fuller was seven-for-eight prior to that, free throws were a problem for both teams for much of the contest. The Commodores (3-4) made just 13 of 25 from the foul line. The Musketeers (6-2) converted nine of their 17 attempts.
Vanderbilt never led during the second half and pulled even only twice, the second time at 54-54 with 1:10 to play when James Siakim made one of two free throws.
Fuller put the Commodores in front three times during the extra period, though. His layup 38 seconds in started the scoring in overtime. His 3-pointer with 2:09 to go made it 59-58, and his layup with 1:26 to go made it 61-60 and gave Vanderbilt the lead for good.
Kedren Johnson added 19 points and freshman Kevin Bright had a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) for Vanderbilt.
Travis Taylor, with 15 points, led four Xavier players in double figures. Junior forward Isaiah Philmore matched Bright with 11 points and 10 rebounds of his own for his first career double-double.