Adams: Thank goodness for Goulbourne

Even though it's very probable that Vanderbilt has secured an NCAA tournament bid, a home loss to LSU would have been devastating to their seeding profile. As I wrote last week, based on how the Commodores finish, they could be seeding anywhere from three to seven.

The ‘Dores held on and defeated the Tigers 77-69 on Saturday. The score wasn't very indicative of how close the game was throughout. LSU was leading most of the first half, and were within a basket or two for most of the second.

"I think you have to give LSU a lot of credit," Stallings said. "They played with a lot of purpose in the tempo of the 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. We got the ball to the basket, but missed layups. 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."

Stallings hit the nail on the head. Vandy was without two of their best zone players. Freshman John Jenkins missed his second consecutive game after getting very ill before the Tennessee game. Jenkins didn't dress for the game, but was with the team on the bench. Jermaine Beal and Brad Tinsley were a combined 4-for-12 from behind the arc, and could never shoot LSU out of the zone. If Jenkins could have knocked down a couple 3's early on, the flow of the game may have changed.

The other surprise absence from the game was Andre Walker. Walker injured his shoulder during Friday's practice. The injury is not supposed to be serious, but it was enough to keep him out of the game.

"He's such a passer and facilitator," Stallings said about Walker. "He gets it inside the zone and can get it to the rim and convert. He's just another really good ballhandler. He's a very valuable weapon against the zone."

With both players out of the lineup, LSU's zone was very effective. Vanderbilt never got into a rhythm for most of the game, and let the Tigers hang around way too long. The ‘Dores needed somebody to step up and contribute for Walker and Jenkins.

Thank goodness for Lance Goulbourne.

Lance scored a career-high and team-high 18 points to go along with nine rebounds. I've been very critical of Lance for a majority of the season. I thought he played very reckless at times, and because of fouls/turnovers, he seemed to be a detriment to the team.

Not anymore.

He has turned his energy and aggressiveness into inspiring play. LG was all over the place this afternoon, getting a lot of points on hustle plays. He also knocked down some free throws late to keep LSU at bay.

"Whatever I need to do to help my team win, I'll do it," Goulbourne said. "I do the best I can when Coach puts me in. if I have to make free throws at the end, I'll do it. I don't get nervous in pressure situations. We shot 43 free throws and they shot 16. If our big guys can get to the basket, we have good finishers and attackers. When we get guys in the paint, we can score."

Things haven't gone very well for LSU this season. Last season, under first-year coach Trent Johnson, the Tigers were 27-8, including 13-3 in the SEC. That resulted in a regular season championship and an eight-seed in the NCAA tournament. The loss to Vanderbilt pushed their record to a paltry 9-16, including an embarrassing 0-11 mark in conference.

"Eleven times in a row is tough," Johnson said. "First of all, considering the fact that Vanderbilt didn't have two of their better players playing, they are a good basketball team. I believe they are a good team to challenge whoever is in position to win our league and I also believe they can go deeper in the tournament. I thought today was our best effort from start to finish all year long."

In the end, Vanderbilt wasn't going to gain any extra credit for blowing out LSU. All the pollsters and tournament committee will simply see it as a home-court, conference win. The danger is if other coaches continue to attack the Commodores with a 2-3 zone. I think everybody feels the presence of Walker and Jenkins would have helped the zone offense tremendously. Just expect to see some zone defense out of Ole Miss next week.

Speaking of the Rebels, they have lost three of their last four, and are in desperate need of a win. According to most prognosticators, they are sitting squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. A win over Vanderbilt would give them a lot of credibility with the selection committee. Expect a tough game this Thursday. Mississippi is 11-2 at home, with its only losses coming against Mississippi State and an improved Arkansas squad.

Both Walker and Jenkins are expected to back in the Vandy rotation. If so, the Commodores have a great chance to escape Oxford with a win.

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