Vandy's Last Game
A.J. Ogilvy scored 28 points and Jermaine Beal added 27 as the Commodores raced to an surprising 47-27 lead.. Vanderbilt shot an impressive 62.5 percent from the field, including 66.7 percent from 3-point range in a sparkling win over the SEC Eastern division leaders. True freshmen also boosted Vandy's cause as the 'Dores got 17 points from Jeffery Taylor and 16 points for Brad Tinsley. Defensively Vanderbilt limited the Gamecocks to just one made 3-pointer and 38 percent from the field.
The Tigers, (25-4, 13-1), waltzed to their tenth SEC regular season title since joining the league in 1933. First-year head coach Trent Johnson, who has also coached at Nevada and Stanford, has performed admirably by leading the Tigers to their most season wins since a 26-2 record in 1981. After losing their SEC opener at Alabama, the Tigers have won 13 consecutive league games including wins at Tennessee and Kentucky and a victory at home against Florida.
The Tigers are a sound basketball team and lead the SEC in just about every statistical category except 3-point shots made (9th, 6.2 per game), however, they are first in the league in 3-point accuracy at 38.2 percent. LSU averages a healthy 76 points per game (4th in SEC) while allowing just over 65 points per game (3rd in SEC).
Marcus Thornton -- Senior, 6-4, 205 lbs -- Big and quick, he's LSU's gun slinger who churns out the points. Thornton is currently second in the SEC in scoring at 21.0 points per game and has had 9 games in which he scored 30 or more points. Last week, against Florida, Thornton was phenomenal, scoring 32 points including 6 of 11 three pointers and 10 of 12 from the free-throw-line.
Garrett Temple -- Senior, 6-6, 190 lbs -- Tall, athletic, guard who isn't a great scorer (7.4 ppg) but is second in the SEC in assist to turnover ratio (2.00), slightly ahead of Jermaine Beal's 1.96. Temple has 185 career steals at LSU and, because of his nice size, he is a capable rebounder (4.6 rpg). Don't let the low scoring average fool you, Temple scored 21 points in LSU's recent win over Florida.
Bo Spencer -- Sophomore, 6-1, 185 lbs -- Quick point guard with good 3-point shooting ability. Averages 1.78 threes made a game. Third leading scorer on the LSU team with 11.6 points per game. Has had SEC game scoring highs of 20 versus Arkansas and 15 against Tennessee.
Tasmin Mitchell -- Junior, 6-7, 235 lbs -- Strong, physical player who can put a hurt on you. Tiger's second leading scorer with 16 points per game. Selected preseason first team All-SEC. Scored 41 points in win over Mississippi State. Mitchell has over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career at LSU.
Chris Johnson -- Senior, 6-11, 210 lbs -- Slim but formidable big man. Good rebounder and shot blocker who is second in the SEC in blocks-per-game (2.76) and seventh in rebounds-per-game (7.4). Florida recently held Johnson in check to the tune of 4 points and 3 rebounds.
Although LSU keeps their starters in the game for the most part, the Tigers do have a capable bench. Junior guard Terry Martin (6-6, 210) has 35 career starts and 674 career points. Senior forward Quinton Thornton (6-9, 240) provides the Tigers with a big, athletic presence off the bench. The junior college transfer averages 13 minutes of action a game. Guard Alex Farrer gets in for about 11 minutes a game and averages 2 points per contest.
Keys to the Game
Continue the Aggressiveness: The Commodores came out swinging against South Carolina and it paid nice dividends. Why not continue this winning method at LSU? Drive the floor and quickly push for scores. LSU doesn't use their bench too much and there's obviously a reason for that. Run the starters in the ground and tire them and then hit them from the inside and outside.
Control the tempo: It'll be senior night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and the natives will be hungry for a massacre. While Vandy's young players have experienced hostile environments at Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida, LSU has it's own, unique flavor. Vanderbilt can't afford to let the Tigers go on big runs and build up a big lead. VU players need to keep their wits and play smart and capitalize on the opportunities that are presented to them. Continue the improvement made offensively against USC while playing the tough defense that they are capable of administering.
Prediction: LSU presents a mammoth challenge for the young Commodores. The Tigers are sound in all aspects of the game. However, having locked up the outright SEC regular season title look for the Tigers to be somewhat flat and ripe for upset. If Vanderbilt can continue their offensive renaissance that started against the Gamecocks on Saturday then folks in Nashville will be celebrating on Wednesday night. Final Score: LSU 77 Vanderbilt 73