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January 25, 2014

Siakam's big day puts Vandy over A&M

Redshirt junior James Siakam's career-day and free-throw shooting down the stretch led Vanderbilt to a 66-55 road win over Texas A&M on Saturday.

Siakam was aggressive around the rim from start to finish, grabbing 10 rebounds, four blocks and scoring a career-best 22 points. Six of his rebounds were on the offensive glass, and the 6-foot-7 forward also chipped in three assists. He was 10-of-13 from the free-throw line.

Senior Kyle Fuller added 19 points by going a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe and draining three three-pointers.

"I was really proud of our team today," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said after the game. "We've had some tough games lately. For our guys to come out and give that kind of an effort here was really impressive to me.

"James Siakam was terrific for us."

Vanderbilt was cold from the field to start the game, shooting just around 30-percent for much of the first half. However, the team began to get hot as the period went on and true freshman Luke Kornet converted on 3-of-5 attempts from three-point range. His last three with four seconds to go gave the Commodores a 27-25 lead at the half.

The play of Siakam, Fuller and Kornet was key as leading scorer Rod Odom was 0-fer shooting for much of the game and junior Dai-Jon Parker couldn't buy a bucket, going 1-of-8 from the field.

Texas A&M used a 9-3 run to take a 34-33 lead within the first five minutes of the second half. Vanderbilt responded with a 13-0 run after Fuller and Siakam each converted on a pair of free throws, Fuller drained a three from the right corner and Parker, Siakam and Fuller converted on buckets around the rim.

Vanderbilt built a 12-point lead and it hovered between 6-10 points before the Aggies pulled to within four at 52-48 with a Shawn Smith layup, but the Commodores would not allow A&M to get any closer as Odom would nail a huge 3-pointer to stretch the lead back out to 58-48 with less than three minutes to go.

A&M tried to apply pressure in hopes of a comeback, but VU not only handled it, but was 8-for-8 on ensuing trips to the free throw line to close out the game and capture the team's second SEC victory of the season.

Vanderbilt won the rebounding battle 36-33 despite the Aggies size advantage going into the game. The Commodores were also 19-of-23 from the free throw line and committed just nine turnovers.

Kourtney Roberson led the Aggies with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but standout Alex Caruso was struggled from the field and with fouls and finished with just six points.

Vanderbilt moved to 10-8 on the season with the victory and now sits at 2-4 in the league. A&M drops to 12-7 and 3-3 with the loss.

The Commodores will return action on Wednesday with a trip to Athens, Georgia to face the Georgia Bulldogs. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT and the game will air live on the CSS network.

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