Vanderbilt couldn't ask for a better way to start conference play other than winning their SEC road opener against LSU 96-89. Tonight was a display of three point shooting and that's the case for both teams. The Commodores torched the nets going 16-32 from the three point line and they needed each one of them on a night where both the Dores and Tigers refused to play good defense.
From beginning to end, Vanderbilt had a hard time contesting three point shots and in the end, they allowed LSU to match their school record for three's in a game by going 17-28 from deep for a blistering 60 percent on the night. Neither team played good three point defense or defense in general. It was a shooter's night and in the end, Vanderbilt made just a few more shots for the win.
The win for Vanderbilt on the road was a collective group effort as five Commodore players finished in double digit scoring, led by junior guard Riley LaChance with his 24 points and 5 assists playing 36 minutes on the night.
LaChance was hitting on all cylinders tonight as he went 8-13 from the field, 4-7 from three and 5-5 from the foul line with critical foul shots made down the stretch. The Commodores combo guard did a good job handling the point in the 2nd half and became an aggressive scorer looking for his shot.
The first half of scoring was controlled by the Dores leading scorer Matthew Fisher-Davis. The junior guard was left open early in the game and he is the one guy in the SEC you don't leave open. Fisher-Davis stepped up and gave the Dores the scorer they needed to establish the game early and give confidence the rest of the team.
Several Commodores followed Fisher-Davis and LaChance's efforts as players like Nolan Cressler (11 points off the bench) and point guard Payton Willis (11 points) produced solid games and gave team much needed scorers on a night when multiple players needed to chip in.
LSU would consistently make buckets to keep them in the game and even push as close as four points at 92-88 with less than a minute remaining but it wouldn't be enough as the Dores would make their foul shots and seal away the game.
Being 6-6 out of non-conference play was a downer but starting SEC play off with a win and it being a road win, is huge on confidence for this team to take with them the rest of the season.
Vanderbilt will be back on the court next Wednesday at home against the Auburn Tigers. Tip off is set for 6 pm Central and will be aired on the SEC Network.
Player of the Game
24 points, 5 assists, 1 board, 1 steal, 8-13 fg, 4-6 3-pt fg
Coach Drew Wins 1st SEC Road Game
Head coach Bryce Drew didn't have the start of his Vanderbilt career go the way he may of wanted to but the early part of the season is over and it's time to get to the nitty gritty part of the year. His first ever SEC game at Vanderbilt was tonight on the road at LSU, which has always been a tough place for the Commodores to win. His team played hard tonight and shot the ball well inside a well designed Coach Drew offense. It is a great start for the team and Coach Drew to come away with a win in their first SEC road game. It gives them confidence knowing that they can do it again. Hopefully getting his first SEC win out of the way takes pressure off winning early in conference play. Maybe they come out next week against Auburn and play lights out. That means both offensively and defensively.
Backcourt Shines for Vanderbilt
The combination of LaChance, Fisher-Davis and Willis on Thursday night was possibly the biggest reason why the Commodores won on the road versus LSU. The three guards combined for 58 points of the Dores 96 on the night. Yes the bench and others contributed mightily but having the three main guards on your roster all click on the same night, is a very positive sign to see.
Fisher-Davis has been pretty consistent all season in scoring but if Vanderbilt can get consistent scoring from LaChance and Willis, they become more dangerous as the season goes along more than some may think.