Vanderbilt holds off LSU, 77-69

NASHVILLE— Lance Goulbourne scored a career high 18 points and Jermaine Beal added 17 as Vanderbilt held off a pesky LSU squad, 77-69, to stay alive in their quest for an SEC Championship.

On a night when Vanderbilt was missing two of its top six players in Andre Walker and John Jenkins, the Commodores struggled in their zone offense and throughout much of the game had problems scoring. Vanderbilt trailed for much of the contest and late in the game the crowd of over 14,000 began to stir as they realized that the home team just might end up being the Tiger's first conference victory of the season. Finally, after a trio of Tigers had fouled out, Vanderbilt was able to get their offense going inside which led to free throw opportunities that enabled the Commodores to pull away.

Early on it looked like it might be an easy blowout victory for Vanderbilt after A.J. Ogilvy's layup gave the Commodores a 5-0 lead just one and a half minutes into the half. However, the Tigers led by Tasmin Mitchell, who would go on to lead all scorers with 20, and Bo Spencer, who added 18, had other ideas. Just a minute after A.J's layup, Spencer's 3-point shot gave the Tigers a 7-5 lead. Vanderbilt would not lead again until the second half as the Tigers effectively shut down A.J. Ogilvy holding him to just two points and a rebound in 10 minutes of action.

Vanderbilt, which trailed 29-28 at the half, was able to tie the score at 29 just seconds into the second half on a free throw by Ogilvy. Ogilvy would go on to take 11 free throws in the second stanza, making eight of them. The Commodores appeared to be in control of the game when Jeffery Taylor's layup with 14:45 to go gave the ‘Dores a 41-33 lead. But the resilient Tigers battled back and although they were never able to re-take the lead, they tied the score on four different occasions in the second half, the latest tie being at 59 with just four minutes to play.

With 1:10 remaining, two Mitchell free throws pulled the threatening Tigers to within three at, 68-65. However, two Ogilvy free throws pulled the Commodores ahead by five. The Tigers would never again threaten as Goulbourne made 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute to enable Vandy to escape with the victory.

After the game Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings gave all the credit to LSU but stressed that the absence of Walker and Jenkins had negative affect on the Commodores game, "We were missing two of our best zone offense players. [LSU] played hard and they played well. This wasn't a case of us not being ready to play or this being a letdown. LSU came out at the beginning better able to do what they needed to do." Stallings also felt that Vanderbilt's late success getting the ball inside and getting free throws were the keys to the win, "in the second half, we did a better job of… taking it inside and getting to the foul line. That was the saving grace for us tonight."

Vanderbilt improves to 19-5 (8-2 SEC) and will visit Ole Miss on Thursday. LSU falls to 9-16 (0-11 SEC). The Tigers get a mid-week bye before hosting Mississippi State on Saturday. Vanderbilt leads the all-time series with LSU, 57-48.

A.J. Ogilvy drives. (VM/Stan Jones) Top Stories