Five Commodores scored more than 15 points as the Southeastern Conference’s second-best offense flexed its’ muscles in the win.
“Vanderbilt is really good,” said LSU coach Trent Johnson. “It reminds me of some of the teams I was affiliated with in Palo Alto (at Stanford). They’re smart, tough, disciplined.”
LSU held Vanderbilt scoreless for a five minute stretch in the first half and used an 11-0 run, capped by a Ralston Turner 3-point bucket, to take a seven point lead at the 8:51 mark.
The Tigers led the ballgame at halftime, 43-41, on the legs of a 57-percent effort from the field led by junior Storm Warren, who scored 18 of his career-best 24 points before intermission.
“Storm came out with great intensity, and we rode his back,” said junior guard Chris Bass.
Andre Stringer got the second half started with an acrobatic bucket, making the lead four, but Vanderbilt kicked it up a notch over the next four minutes as the Commodores exploded for a 16-1 run to take an 11 point lead.
They would never look back.
“We didn’t start the second period very well,” Johnson said. “The roof sort of caved in, and I don’t think we were very competitive, and that’s where things sort of fell apart.”
Vanderbilt would ride the momentum to a 49-point second half, and the Tigers took a turn for the worse, shooting just 25-percent after halftime.
“The story of this game was the defensive end,” Turner said. “Regardless of what we shot in the second half, Coach Johnson told us at halftime, “Defense is what is going to win it for us,”, and that’s what lost it for us.”
Turner added 18 points to go with Warren’s 24, a silver lining after both players struggled with injuries in the early part of 2011.
“It’s great to have Storm healthy. Ralston, being healthy, is a great shooter,” Bass said. “We gotta do what we did against Mississippi State and put together a complete game.”
LSU (11-18, 3-11) travels to Georgia on Wednesday before closing out the regular season at home on Saturday, March 5 against Auburn.