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January 29, 2013

Vandy loses another heartbreaker in Knoxville

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings must be wondering if he'll ever catch the break needed to win one of these games.

The Commodores' Kedren Johnson mis-fired with a short jump shot in the game's waning seconds, and freshman Kevin Bright's tip-in of that miss fell short, as Tennessee knocked off Vandy by a 58-57 score at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Tuesday night.

Excepting a brief spell late in the first half, VU trailed all evening, and was down double-digits in both the first and second halves. Vandy trailed 50-39 with 9:15 to play, but a 13-1 run over the next 3:13, ending on Sheldon Jeter's 3, tied the game.

The Vols stretched that lead back to five, but Jeter's steal and drive almost the full length of the floor got Vandy back within three. The Vols' Skylar McBee hit a free throw of his own, but Kedren Johnson hit the front end of a 1-and-1, and after missing the second, James Siakam snagged the offensive board and got a put-back to put the 'Dores down one with 30 seconds left.

UT's Jordan McRae missed the front end of an ensuing 1-and-1, and another Siakam rebound set up Vandy's chance to win. Johnson got into the lane on the left and missed a running shot from the low block with two seconds on the clock, and Bright, perhaps in a rush to get the shot off before the buzzer, couldn't get his tip over the front side of the rim.

It's the third time VU has played a Southeastern Conference nail-biter this year, and the third time the 'Dores have lost. Johnson's 3-pointer at the buzzer of the Kentucky game on Jan. 10 missed the mark, and VU lost by two. The Commodores led Ole Miss by three with a second left in regulation five nights later, but Marshall Henderson hit a 30-foot shot to send the game to overtime, and VU lost that one as well.

Johnson led Vandy with 14 points, though it took him 13 shots to get them, and Josh Henderson added 13, as VU fell to 8-11 overall and 2-5 in the SEC.

Vandy has now lost seven of its last eight games in Knoxville. The Commodores return home to face Alabama in Nashville on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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