Vanderbilt Advances to Championship Round of San Juan Shootout

San Juan, PUERTO RICO – Ted Skuchas posted a career-high 16 points to go along with six rebounds and three blocked shots as Vanderbilt advanced to the championship round of the San Juan Shootout with a 75-62 victory against in-state foe Tennessee Tech Wednesday at Mario Morales Coliseum.

The Commodores (8-3) will play Appalachian State in the final round Thursday, Dec. 21, at 3 p.m. CT.

Alex Gordon matched his season-high with 15 points, hitting key 3-pointers in the second half as Tennessee Tech attempted a comeback. Derrick Byars tallied 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Dan Cage added 13 while Shan Foster contributed 10.

“We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game,” Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said. “We had to make it a bigger game for us than it was for them. They came out and punched us in the face with a 7-0 lead, but we were able to respond.

“Ted was awesome all the way through the game,” Stallings said of his fifth-year senior center. “He played big for us. It was easily his best game in a Vanderbilt uniform.”

Tennessee Tech (5-5) scored the game’s first seven points less than two minutes into the contest. However, Vanderbilt answered with a 22-2 run to build a 22-9 lead after a 3-pointer by Shan Foster with 9:15 remaining in the first half.

The Golden Eagles trimmed Vanderbilt’s lead to eight points at 31-23 on a layup by Francis Kabore at 2:29 before intermission. However, Cage nailed a 3-pointer, Gordon and Foster converted two free throws each and JeJuan Brown slammed in a Jermaine Beal miss to help give the Commodores a 40-26 halftime lead.

Vanderbilt seemed to respond to any Tennessee Tech challenge in the second half. Derrick Byars had a lay-in at 10:14 that extended the Commodore lead to 52-42. Gordon netted two key 3-pointers within a span of a minute and a half to push Vanderbilt ahead 61-50 at 7:30.

The Golden Eagles never trimmed Vanderbilt’s lead inside eight points in the second half.

Belton Rivers topped all Tennessee Tech scorers with 14 points. Anthony Fisher added 13.

The Commodores forced the Golden Eagles into 17 turnovers. Tennessee Tech won the rebounding battle 40-33.

The victory was Vanderbilt’s fifth consecutive win against Tennessee Tech and improved the Commodores’ series record to 12-1 against the Golden Eagles. Today’s game marked the first meeting between the schools at a neutral site and the first since a 98-79 Vanderbilt win on Dec. 12, 2003 in Nashville.