"That was as well as we can play without Tyrus Thomas," LSU coach John Brady said.
Glen ‘Big Baby' Davis showed why he was the SEC's Player of the Year, totaling 28 points and 13 rebounds while displaying a frightening array of moves, many that came away from the basket. Thomas' replacement, Darnell Lazare, had 16 points and five rebounds, and freshman Tasmin Mitchell scored 20 points and handed out four assists.
For Vanderbilt, Derrick Byars managed 17 points, and Shan Foster and Julian Terrell had 13 each, but the Commodores were simply no match for the SEC regular season champs who were clicking on all cylinders.
"I think the story of the game was just that they were better than us," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, who will return to the NIT for the fourth time in seven years. "Davis was obviously dominant in every facet. That is probably the best I've seen LSU play with our without Tyrus Thomas and I didn't think they were capable of playing as well without him as they could play with him."
The Tigers ran and hid from Vanderbilt, building a 9-0 lead off the bat. The Commodores recovered briefly from the opening salvo, tying things at 10-10 when Shan Foster hit three free throws. An Alan Metcalfe bucket pulled Vanderbilt within 18-17 with 13:30 to play in the first half, but it was all downhill from there. LSU gradually pulled away, building a 44-30 lead at intermission.
As the teams were leaving the floor at halftime, Stallings was whistled for a technical foul for approaching the officials after they told him to go to the locker room. LSU hit one shot coming out of the locker room to start the second half and push the lead to 15. Vanderbilt was never able to get it below 14 the rest of the way.
"I thought this was more of a case of them overwhelming us than us playing poorly," Stallings said.
Garrett Temple entered the game shooting 25 percent from three, but he nailed four of six. Tasmin Mitchell was shooting 28 percent from long range, and he was three for three. LSU outrebounded Vanderbilt 34-25 and simply never let the Dores back into the game.
Vanderbilt will now await its NIT bid on Sunday night, one that the team will accept without hesitation, according to Stallings.
"I think we still have a lot left," said senior Julian Terrell. "We're obviously a team that doesn't give up so whatever is put in front of us we'll just go at it and try our best from here on out."
The Commodores enter the NIT at 17-12.
Alex Gordon defends vs. LSU (VM/Stan Jones)