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November 30, 2005NASHVILLE - Vanderbilt's Mario Moore entered November like a lamb.
On Wednesday night, he left it like a lion.
With the Commodores trailing by two points after Oregon's Aaron Brooks hit a running layup with just 3.3 seconds remaining, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings called timeout to set up the game's final play.
The ball went to Moore, who dribbled up the right side of the floor, glanced at the game clock, and while running dangerously near the sideline, gathered the ball and heaved about a 30-foot shot over the outstretched arms of two Oregon defenders.
The Memorial Gym crowd of 12,626 watched in frozen silence as Moore's heave made its way to the rim.
Moments later, the crowd erupted into a deafening roar as Moore's shot found only the net, setting off a wild on-court celebration as the Commodore team ran towards the student section and mobbed their senior leader.
"Coach said there were three seconds, that's three dribbles, get as close to the basket as you can," said Moore following the game. "I said, 'OK.'
"And I'm looking, and on my first option I was looking for Shan Foster, but the guy stayed with Shan and their coach was yelling, 'Double-team him! Double team him!'
"And I'm like, 'OK,' and I look up and there was one (second left) and I was taking a chance of running into a double-team and not getting a shot off. I didn't have time to set my feet to shoot a jumper, so I just shot it running. It felt good when I let it go."
Moore had been suspended by Stallings for the first two games due to an unspecified violation of team rules. But Stallings glowed about Moore's improved attitude and leadership qualities over the past four weeks.
"That ball went in because his attitude has been fantastic," said Stallings. "If his attitude wasn't good, I believe with all my heart that the shot wouldn't have gone in.
"We were thinking about advancing it a little then calling a quick timeout, but decided to open the court and then Mario made the play. They couldn't foul, so the shot was unencumbered."
"I thought that Aaron (Brooks) did a tremendous job of not fouling him and putting shot pressure on him," said Oregon coach Ernie Kent. "It's just one of those shots there's nothing you can do about it."
Moore's miracle shot was the exclamation point on another Vandy comeback from a double-digit deficit. The visiting Ducks led by as many as 11, and held a 53-43 advantage with 11:53 to play.
But the Commodores managed to overcome a 25-point night from the Ducks' Malik Hairston and a whopping 21 Oregon offensive rebounds by shooting 76% (19-of-25) in the second half, including four-of-five from three-point range.
Derrick Byars led Vanderbilt with 20 points, five rebounds, seven assists, a block, and a steal. Julian Terrell (12) and Moore (15) joined Byars as double-digit scorers
Vanderbilt has a 10-day layoff before facing Cincinnati at home on December 10. The Commodores moved to 5-0 on the season while Oregon fell to 4-1.