Blue Bayou: Byars Belts Big Baby, 64-53

BATON ROUGE-- Vanderbilt continued its improbable season turnaround on Wednesday night when the Commodores outplayed and defeated #24 LSU, 64-53. Derrick Byars scored 18 while Dan Cage and Shan Foster each added 14 as Vandy picked up their fifth win of the season over ranked opponents.

Both teams were sluggish on offensive early in the game and Vanderbilt led just 6-3 with 16 minutes remaining in the half.

Foster, who hails from nearby Kenner, La., drilled a 3-pointer with 13:26 remaining in the half to put Vanderbilt up by 10, 13-3. Vanderbilt's Byars added another three to extend the visitors lead to 21-6 with 10 minutes remaining in the half.

LSU was harassed throughout the first half by Vanderbilt's aggressive defense but Tasmin Mitchell scored 8 points in the final moments to pull the Tigers to within 10 at 34-24. Mitchell finished as the Tigers leading scorer with 16.

Vanderbilt continued its onslaught of the Tigers in the second half. Byars' 3-pointer with 17:22 remaining in the game put the Commodores up comfortably at 40-25. Byars made 3 of 7 3-pointers for the game. A Ted Skuchas lay-up with 13 minutes remaining gave Vanderbilt its biggest lead of the game at 49-31. For the second consecutive game Skuchas had 4 blocks.

Like the Alabama and Kentucky games, LSU was destined to make a run. Garrett Temple made two free throws with 2:56 remaining to pull the Tigers to within 6 at 55-49. However, Vandy quickly answered with a Foster lay-up to put his team back up by 8. Foster then buried a 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining to finish the Tigers and put Vandy ahead for good at 60-51.

Vanderbilt held LSU All-American Glen Davis to just 12 points. After the game Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings talked about his team's outstanding defense of the Big Baby, "We had a plan. It would be a little bit confusing for a player that hasn't seen what we were doing. We were coming from a variety of places, and there were different things that predicated and determined and dictated when we went and when we didn't and who went and who didn't. Our goal was not to let him get into any kind of a rhythm because when he does, you can't guard him."

It was the first time in Commodore men's basketball history that Vandy has beaten ranked opponents on the road, back to back. The game marked the return of former LSU player Ross Neltner. Neltner transferred to Vanderbilt last year and finished the game with 2 points and 4 rebounds.

It was the first SEC home loss for LSU since late in the 2003-04 season. LSU's football, women's basketball and men's basketball teams had not suffered an SEC home loss since just after Hurricane Katrina.

Vanderbilt improves to 14-6 (4-2 SEC). The Commodores will host Ole Miss on Saturday. LSU falls to 13-6 (2-3 SEC) and travel to Georgia on Saturday.


Louisiana State guard Garrett Temple, left, has his shot blocked by Vanderbilt forward Ross Neltner in the first half of their basketball game in Baton Rouge, La. Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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