March 13, 2008
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ATLANTA (AP) -Shan Foster played like the Southeastern Conference player of the year. A.J. Ogilvy was even better.
Ogilvy scored a career-best 27 points and Foster added 26 after being named the top player on the coaches' All-SEC team earlier in the week, leading No. 18 Vanderbilt past Auburn 93-82 in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday.
The Commodores (26-6) shot 67 percent (33 of 49) from the field, falling just short of the tournament record. They advanced to face Arkansas in the quarterfinals Friday.
Auburn (14-16) will miss out on a postseason berth for the fifth year in a row.
Ogilvy, a 6-foot-11 freshman from Australia, teamed with Foster to provide a devastating inside-outside punch for the Commodores.
The big center made 12 of 13 shots, nearly all of them gimmes after he got loose underneath. He did step outside to hit one long jumper with his foot on the 3-point line.
Foster, the SEC's leading scorer, handled most of the outside shooting, making 6 of 9 from beyond the arc to add another notch to his brilliant season. The 6-6 senior reached 20 points in his sixth straight game and 19th overall.
Vanderbilt built a double-digit lead 5 1/2 minutes into the game, and was comfortably out front most of the first half with the Big Two leading the way. Foster had 19 points and Ogilvy 14 by halftime.
Auburn got a taste of what it was in for right from the start. Ogilvy scored on his first three shots, then Foster swished a 3. After Ogilvy slipped inside for another easy basket, Alex Gordon connected on a 3 that made it 14-4 and forced Tigers coach Jeff Lebo to call a quick timeout.
The Commodores shot 76 percent in the first half and tailed off just a bit over the final 20 minutes. They would have broken the tournament mark for field-goal percentage in a game if not for a botched dunk by little-used George Drake in the final minute with the outcome already decided.
Kentucky still holds the record (68.3 percent) from its 101-100 victory over Alabama in 1979.
Vanderbilt is trying to improve on a mostly dismal history in the SEC tournament, which included six losses in seven previous meetings against Auburn. The Commodores' lone championship came in 1951 - the only time they have reached the final.
Auburn, which trailed 47-36 at halftime, closed to 61-56 on a 3-pointer by Lucas Hargrove with 11 1/2 minutes remaining. But Vanderbilt scored the next 10 points to put it away, with Foster contributing a jumper and a layup before Gordon capped the spurt with two free throws.
Rasheem Barrett scored 20 points to lead four Auburn players in double figures. Senior Frank Barrett chipped in with 17 before fouling out of his final college game with less than a minute to go.
The Tigers, who struggled to deal with Vanderbilt's superior size, also lost Quan Prowell to fouls. He picked up his fifth with nearly 12 minutes remaining in a futile attempt to block a shot by Ross Neltner.
Gordon had 14 points and Neltner 10 to add a little balance to the Commodores' offense.