Bad Night on the Bayou

Vandy suffers tough loss at LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. — Vanderbilt’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection may have sunk into the bubbling bayou Wednesday.

The Commodores were beaten 84-77 by the SEC’s last-place LSU Tigers inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, ending Vanderbilt’s five-game winning streak and the Tigers’ own 14-game losing skid.

“I think the message is to still try to win out,” Vandy head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “Hopefully when we get to the SEC Tournament, we can have a good run there. Still plenty of basketball left for us, but obviously disappointed to lose this one tonight. This one hurts against a team that’s been struggling mightily—for them to find a way to get right against us. It’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world.”

A string of recent wins had Vandy (15-13, 8-7 SEC) starting to register on the radar of being considered an NCAA Tournament team—and that possibility is certainly not dead. But the Dores will likely have to win the SEC Tournament next month at Bridgestone Arena to make that a reality.

That makes Wednesday’s result all that much more tough to swallow, as did watching some brilliant individual performances come in a loss.

Liam Robbins nearly recorded the program’s third triple-double by scoring 22 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking nine shots. Tyrin Lawrence added 19, Trey Thomas had 11 and Ezra Manjon scored seven to go along with seven assists.

Colin Smith also added 11.

Vandy also shot nearly 60 percent in the second half. Yet LSU matched the visitors shot for shot and won for the first time since Dec. 28.

Vanderbilt returns to Memorial Gymnasium for its penultimate regular-season home game at 5 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Florida (14-14, 7-8 SEC).

“We just got to pick ourselves up,” Stackhouse said. “Find a way to finish out strong. I think we need to win out. We got to come back and win that game at home. Then we have a great opportunity to go at Kentucky and win one there.”

Wednesday’s affair started with both teams trading 9-2 runs to arrive at an 11-all tie a little more than five minutes into the game. The Tigers were able to seize the lead with a 6-0 spurt that put them ahead 21-18 with 8:45 to play in the half.

Vandy would go nearly six minutes without scoring and miss 10 straight shots. That allowed LSU to build a 28-18 lead before Thomas made a 3 with 6:06 left in the period.

The Commodores would inch to 29-26 and then to 36-32, but KJ Williams hit a 3 with less than 40 seconds to play and extended the margin back out to 39-32.

That was the score going into the locker room; Vanderbilt shot just 31 percent from the floor, and six of its 10 made field goals were from 3.

“Our lack of toughness on the boards—I thought we played pretty good defense early on, but we allowed them to get nine offensive rebounds early in that first half. That really kind of set the tone for the night,” Stackhouse said. “We scored enough points, we did pretty good offensively—just didn’t get the stops that we needed in the second half. That was the difference in the game.”

Manjon led the charge into the second half by scoring six of his team’s first 11 points. His right-handed layup at the 15:52 mark got Vandy within one at 43-42.

Vanderbilt soon got the lead back with a Thomas 3 out of the left corner to make it 49-48. But the Tigers roared back with what amounted to a 13-6 run and were up 61-54 when Williams drained a left-side triple.

Vandy virtually couldn’t get any defensive stops down the stretch as LSU scored possession after possession. And that was all she wrote.

Another Williams 3, this one coming with 56 seconds to go, gave the Tigers a 80-73 lead and put the final nail in the coffin.

Williams had a career-high 35 to lead LSU (13-15, 2-13 SEC).

“We’ve had some tough losses and disappointing losses. Our guys are resilient,” Stackhouse said. “They find a way to bounce back. We just worry about what’s in our locker room, going back and trying to see the things that we didn’t do well tonight.

“We didn’t execute the game plan as we needed to. I think that’s what we’re going to see.”

  • Vanderbilt last won six straight regular-season SEC games in 2008 when it won seven in a row.
  • Vandy last won six games in a row overall during the 2011-12 season.
  • Wright now has 1,065 career points and is 45th on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list. Bo Wynenandt (1,078) is 44th.
  • Robbins now has the third-most blocks (77) in a single Vanderbilt season. Luke Kornet (84) is second and Festus Ezeli (87) is first.
  • Robbins set a career-high for blocks in a game with nine.
  • The nine blocks by Robbins tied for the most in a Division I game this season.
  •  The Commodores are now 2-9 this season when trailing at halftime, 10-2 when scoring at least 75 points and 12-6 when shooting better than 40 percent.
  • The last Vanderbilt team to win at least nine conference games was the 2016-17 squad that won 10.
  • Vanderbilt is now 64-57 all time against LSU and 20-36 in Baton Rouge. Vandy last won at LSU on Dec. 29, 2017.
  • Attendance on Wednesday was announced as 8,827.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.