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December 16, 2006

Vanderbilt blows out Nicholls State, 76-40

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Vanderbilt (6-3) held Nicholls State (1-12) to 24.5 percent shooting and forced 23 turnovers, as the Commodores never trailed in routing the Colonels 76-40 at Memorial Gym on Saturday night.

Ross Neltner and Jermaine Beal led Vandy with 15 points, and Shan Foster added 13.

"I'm surprised we played as well as we did tonight," said Vandy coach Kevin Stallings. "This is always one of the most difficult games of the year at the end of finals week, and we were absolutely horrible in practice yesterday.

"They had a bunch of good shooters on their team, and they just couldn't get a bunch of shots to fall… Part of that was our defensive intensity, shooting over our hands, but part of that was that those guys have been on the road a lot and might be a little tired," added Neltner.

The 40 points were the fewest the Commodores have allowed since defeating Georgia 65-37 on February 26, 2005. The Colonels hit just four-of-25 from three-point range.

The Commodores scored the game's six points and quickly built an insurmountable lead, led by Neltner's 11 points and seven first-half rebounds.

A 14-0 run midway through the first half put Vanderbilt up 27-5, as the Colonels missed 16 of their first 17 shots.

Nicholls State shot just 14.8 percent and committed 13 turnovers in the first half, as Vandy led 39-12 at the break.

The 12 points were the fewest the Commodores have given up during Stallings' eight years as Vanderbilt coach.

The Commodores scored the half's first four points and never again led by fewer than 30, extending the lead to as many as 41.

Neltner led Vandy with nine rebounds. Beal's point total was a career high.

Stefan Blaszczynski added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Nicholls State.

Vanderbilt leaves Sunday morning for San Juan, Puerto Rico, to play in the San Juan Shootout. The Commodores draw Puerto Rico-Mayaguez in the first of three games, starting at 9 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday.

"It is a relief to get exams over and not have to worry about school for the next month or so, but we're here to play basketball, and we're professional athletes right now," said Neltner, when asked if the Commodores would have trouble maintaining focus after finishing exams and heading for the beach. "We can't take the tournament for granted, and we're going down there to win it."

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