NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt got career nights out of junior guards Maxwell Evans and Saben Lee and beat No. 18 Louisiana State 99-90 at Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday, ending a 28-game losing streak against Southeastern Conference competition.
The Commodores (9-13, 1-8 SEC) last won an SEC game March 3, 2017. But on this night none of that mattered.
Evans carried the load early by scoring 25 of his 31 points in the first half. Lee came on strong in the second half and finished with 33.
Jordan Wright had nine of his 11 in the final 20 minutes and Scotty Pippen Jr. hit a dagger of a 3 with 68 seconds left.
The celebration was online.
Vanderbilt trailed 83-80 with less than six minutes to go. But Wright scored four straight – including two after his steal on the LSU offensive end – and Pippen’s layup made it 86-83. Lee’s three-point play before the 3-minute mark made it 89-84.
Another Lee drive to the hole extended the margin to 91-84 with 2:12 to go. Pippen’s 3 with 1:08 left made it 96-87 – and that was the dagger.
The Tigers (17-5, 8-1 SEC) had won 10 in a row coming in. They called off the dogs in the final minute after their shots stopped falling.
Vandy, which shot 57.4 percent from the field and had 14 assists, next travels to Mississippi State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Vanderbilt began the night aggressive and sharp and took a 18-14 lead on an Evans’ 3 from the right wing. A few possessions later Lee retrieved the ball on the offensive end on the perimeter, drove the lane and laid one in to make it 20-18.
Evans banged another 3, this one from the right wing, to put Vandy ahead 28-23. He continued to stay hot with a three-point play putting Vandy up 37-32 and that was followed by Lee’s layup making it 39-32.
That forced an LSU timeout.
But the Dores kept right on rolling. Evans hit a deep 3 from the left wing making it 47-36. That was followed moments later by a Lee layup giving Vandy a 49-37 advantage.
Skyler Mays scored five straight for LSU to end the half and got the Tigers within 42-37 at the break. Still, Evans finished with 25 and demolished his previous career-high of 16.
Vanderbilt shot 54.5 percent in the first half and 44.4 percent from long range. The Tigers were just 1-for-11 from distance.
Evans’ seventh 3 of the night came three minutes into the second half and allowed the Commodores to enjoy a 63-57 lead. LSU, of course, kept coming and got within 71-70 on Javonte Smart’s 3 from the top of the key with 14:08 to play.
The Commodores kept LSU two points away for the next several minutes until Wright’s putback of his own blocked shot made it 80-74 with the cooking ticking less than eight minutes to go.
But the Tigers responded with a 9-0 run to take an 83-80 lead. That set up the final six minutes.
Trendon Watford scored 26 to lead LSU and Emmitt Williams added 24.