PREVIEW: LSU at Vanderbilt

The Tigers aim for another SEC road win Saturday in Nashville against a Vanderbilt team that's lost four in a row in league play. Get ready for the game with TSD's full preview, including projected starting lineups.

LSU (14-4, 3-2) goes for a road sweep this week when the Tigers take on Vanderbilt (11-7, 1-4) inside Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday.

Tipoff in Nashville is set for 5 p.m. Central Time, and ESPNU will have the live television broadcast.

The Tigers are coming off one of their most impressive outings of the season – a 79-61 win at Florida Tuesday night which ended the Gators’ 20-game home winning streak versus conference foes.

The Commodores have struggled early in league play but have done so facing some of the best the SEC has to offer. Already Vanderbilt has played at Arkansas, ranked No. 23 in the country at the time, at No. 1 Kentucky and versus Georgia. Kevin Stallings’ crew lost all three contests by an average of just 7.7 points.

Get ready for the game Saturday with projected starters and stats, matchup and personnel talk as well as quotes from LSU coach Johnny Jones on the ‘Dores.

PROJECTED STARTERS

LSU (14-4, 3-2)

PG Josh Gray (Jr., 6-1, 183) – 9.6 ppg, 4.9 apg, 1.6 spg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 12.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.4 spg
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 16.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 48.7% FGs
F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 15.5 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.8 bpg
C Darcy Malone (So., 7-0, 245) – 1.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 50.0% FGs

Impact Reserve: G Tim Quarterman (So., 6-6, 187) – 12.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.5 apg

Vanderbilt (11-7, 1-4)

G Wade Baldwin IV (Fr., 6-2, 195) – 6.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.4 spg
G Riley LaChance (Fr., 6-2, 194) – 13.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.4 apg
F Jeff Roberson (Fr., 6-6, 206) – 4.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 46.4% FGs
F Luke Kornet (So., 7-0, 235) – 8.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.2 bpg
C Damian Jones (So., 6-10, 240) – 15.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 54.4% FGs

Impact Reserve: F James Siakam (Sr., 6-7, 225) – 9.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 65.8% FGs

TALK OF CHALK

- In Vanderbilt LSU will encounter a lineup composed quite differently than many of the SEC teams the Tigers have faced to date. For the most part the Tigers have seen perimeter-oriented teams that get by with undersized posts or only one true post. Well, Vandy has size for days and should be fairly well equipped to match up defensively with LSU’s interior presence. And where Stallings’ squad may lack for athleticism on the wings, it brings shooters from distance, especially Riley LaChance and even 7-footer Luke Kornet can step behind the line and let fly.

- Continuing on the above point, the inside-out game works for Vanderbilt because of center Damian Jones, the team’s best player. The Baton Rouge native, shooting a robust 54.4% from the field, figures to see plenty of Jordan Mickey on both ends of the floor. When and if LSU is forced to double, that’s when VU becomes dangerous with all those shooters hovering on the perimeter. Vanderbilt ranks 22nd in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 48.4% as a team. The ‘Dores also share it well, averaging 15.2 assists a game (40th in NCAA). So don’t let the conference record fool you, this is a solid offensive basketball team that will challenge LSU’s defense in ways it largely hasn’t been this season (effective scoring post player plus bevy of spot-up shooters).

- Something else to consider on the topic pace: Vanderbilt is yet to score more than 70 points in any of its five SEC games this season. In fact they’re averaging 62.4 points in those contests. My point? Even though Vandy shoots it well, they are very selective shooters and will exhaust the shot clock frequently to find the best open look. So, even though Vanderbilt and Florida are different teams, the rule of thumb for LSU this game is almost identical to what it was Tuesday night – find a way to up the tempo or get this game in the 70s, and it’s almost assuredly a game the Tigers will win.

WHAT LSU’S SAYING

“They’ve played some tough opponents in our conference leading up into our game on Saturday. They are an excellent offensive basketball team. They have great perimeter shooters. They certainly have a force inside with Damian Jones. We have to make sure we are able to transition in both areas—offense to defense—and make sure that we get to the three-point line again in this game. We are going to try to limit their looks and at the same time try to limit Jones’ effectiveness in the post.”
- Johnny Jones on challenges of playing Vandy

“They are going to execute their offense. They are going to keep the floor spaced. They are not going to look for early shots, if they are not available; they are not going to force it. They are going to be deliberate and try to get the ball inside. They can really stretch the floor with their big post (Luke Kornet), a guy who can step out and shoot threes as well. LaChance is an excellent player. I think he is leading the league at around 42 percent shooting from the three-point line. They are going to take their time and look for him and see if they can get him some looks prior to trying to get anything else offensively.”
- Jones on Vanderbilt spacing the floor



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