LSU knocks off MBB, 88-78

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Tremont Waters had 28 points and nine assists, and LSU beat Vanderbilt 88-78 on Tuesday night to keep the Commodores winless on the road.

Wayde Sims scored a career-high 16 for LSU (16-11, 7-8 Southeastern Conference), which guaranteed itself a winning season one year after going 10-21 overall, including 2-16 in league play.

LSU’s best interior player, Duop Reath, played with a black brace on his injured left ankle and was in the game for only nine minutes. But Sims and Aaron Epps picked up the slack. Epps dunked four times and finished with 15 points. Sims threw down three dunks.

Riley LaChance scored 26 for Vanderbilt (11-17, 5-10), which was coming off consecutive home victories. Jeff Roberson had 20 points and Saben Lee 15.

The Tigers led by as many as 15 points early in the second half and were still up by 11 before LaChance’s free throws with a little less than 10 minutes to go began a 7-2 run – capped by Roberson’s 3 – that tightened the score to 66-60.

But Waters repeatedly made momentum-changing plays, such as his steal from Roberson for a breakaway layup that made it 71-62 with about 5 minutes left.

Vanderbilt was as close as six points after Roberson’s free throws with 2:49 left. But Waters stunted Vandy’s momentum again with a driving layup and the Tigers made four straight free throws to go back up by 12 with 1:02 to go, virtually sealing LSU’s second straight victory and fifth straight at home.

LSU led for most of the first half but not by more than five until Waters began to assert himself more as a scorer. His driving reverse layup and off-balance floater while being fouled put the Tigers up by nine.

Vandy briefly cut its deficit back to five, but Waters responded by assisting on Sims dunk and hitting a crowd-pleasing jumper at the first-half horn from several feet behind the 3-point line to make it 39-29.

Skylar Mays had 14 points for LSU.


Vanderbilt: While the Commodores appeared unfazed by the hostile environment on the offensive end, they had communication problems on defense. Vandy couldn’t contain Waters and defensive breakdowns led to several uncontested LSU dunks as Vanderbilt – which beat the Tigers in Nashville this season – fell to 0-12 away from home, including 0-10 in true road games.

LSU: While Reath has been one of the Tigers’ most dominant players this season, the Tigers showed they could not just cope, but sometimes thrive, without their best big-man on the floor for significant periods of time. The Tigers still got to the rim with eight dunks, shot a season-best 63 percent and outscored Vandy 42-20 in the paint. The Tigers also improved to 10-0 when Waters has at least eight assists. Waters now has an LSU freshman record 160 assists, breaking Ben Simmons’ mark of 158 in 2016.


Vanderbilt: Hosts Texas A&M on Saturday.

LSU: Visits Georgia on Saturday.