Tigers set to get back on track vs. Vandy

The 21st-ranked LSU men's basketball team hopes for the success at home it has enjoyed for part of four seasons when it resumes Southeastern Conference play Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU is 13-5 and in a three-way tie for first place in the wild SEC Western Division at 2-2 with Alabama and Mississippi State. Vanderbilt is 3-2 after doing what no SEC West team has done so far this season, win on the road. The Commodores, 13-6 overall, won Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, downing Kentucky, 72-67.

LSU fell to 2-2 Saturday with its second league road loss, 72-52, at Arkansas.

But LSU still has not lost at home in the SEC since the next-to-last-home game of the 2004 season against the Wildcats. A win over Ole Miss in the final home game of 2004 started the streak that continued with undefeated 8-0 campaigns at home in the league in 2005 and 2006.

LSU has wins over Auburn and Ole Miss to run the streak to 19, the third longest in school history and the longest in the 36-year history of the Maravich Center.

A win against Vanderbilt would give the Tigers 20 straight wins, tying the second longest conference home winning streak set by the Bob Pettit led Tigers in the 1950s.

Coach Brady hopes to see his team find the key to making shots that will help propel the LSU offense forward again.

"There are two things about our team that we've got to improve upon," Brady said. "We need to work on executing offense and staying with it a bit longer, and of course making some shots. I think that we've done a good job of spreading the ball around, and our shots have been good ones.

"We need to work on getting those shots to fall. Sixty points in this league isn't going to get you a win, no matter how well you do on defense and protecting the ball. You need to get at least 65-70 points to be able to win, and we'll see how we do this Wednesday against a Vanderbilt that that's playing very good right now."

One of the more interesting storylines for tonight's game is the return of former Tiger Ross Neltner, who transferred to Vanderbilt prior to last season. Neltner, foremrly a Mr. Kentucky basketball award receipient, played two seasons with LSU. He played in all 30 games in the 2004-05 season and scored 2.9 points per game and averaged 3.1 rebounds each contest.

Neltner's most memorable moment as a Tiger came in a 61-59 win over Alabama on Feb. 22, 2005. With less than two second left on the clock, Neltner tipped in a Brandon Bass miss giving LSU the two-point victory.

LSU coach John Brady said Neltner could have been a main contributor on the Tigers' Final Four team a year ago as well as on this season's club.

"Ross would probably be playing a lot for us now," Brady said Wednesday. "He's a very good play maker. I wish him the best. I never had a problem with Ross."

The Tigers will travel to Georgia this weekend for a rare Sunday game in Athens, televised by Lincoln Financial Sports.

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