Despite Record Shooting, LSU Falls in SEC Opener
Communications Sr. Associate
BATON ROUGE – LSU tied a school record for three-pointers made, but the Tigers were unable to put a consistent stop to the good shooting of Vanderbilt and the Commodores were able to escape with a wild 96-89 victory over the Tigers in the Southeastern Conference opener for both at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Thursday night.
The loss snapped LSU home-court winning streak at nine games dating back to last season and left the Tigers 8-4 on the year and 0-1 in the SEC. The Commodores are now 7-6 on the year and 1-0 in the SEC.
LSU tied the school mark of 17 three-pointers last set in March 2003 in a game at Tennessee. The 17 field goal sets the school mark for three-pointers in the Maravich Center, breaking the old mark of 16 which occurred against Auburn in February 2003.
In an amazing stat line, both teams shot over 53 percent for the game and both made 31 field goals. LSU was 31-of-54 for 57.4%, while Vandy was 31-of-58 for 53.4%. Outside the arc, both teams made threes with amazing regularity with LSU hitting the school record 17 on 28 attempts (60.7 percent) while Vanderbilt was 16-of-32 for 50 percent.
Free throws were in Vanderbilt’s favor, 18-of-24 to 10-of-16 but several of those came late as LSU tried to catch up. Both teams had 29 rebounds.
But while Vandy had a 24-22 advantage in the paint, the Commodores got double points off every one of LSU’s 15 turnovers (18) while LSU got 18 off 11 Vandy turnovers.
LSU sophomore Antonio Blakeney led the LSU scoring with another 20 point game, this time 24 on 8-of-13 shooting, including 2 treys and 6-7 at the line. Freshman Wayde Sims came in to play 20 minutes and hit four treys to finish with 14 points. Brandon Sampson had 12 points while Skylar Mays and Jalyn Patterson had 11 each.
LSU’s point guards did well with Mays having four assists, no turnovers; Patterson six assists, no turnovers; and, Branden Jenkins, seeing his first action as a Tiger, two assists, no turnovers in 19 minutes. Jenkins had five points.
Vandy’s Riley LaChance led the Commodores with 24 points, hitting 8-of-13 field goals and four treys, while Matthew Fisher-Davis had 23 points, also with four treys. Luke Kornet had 14 points, while Payton Willis had 11 and Nolan Cressler 10.
Vanderbilt took the lead for good at the 14:48 mark of the first half on of course, a three and with take the lead to 16 points, 41-25, with 6:31 to play. But the Commodores would only get four points the rest of the way to intermission (2 on free throws at the 1:53 mark and a buzzer beater by Cressler in the paint.
Meanwhile, LSU was getting its act together on both ends, slowing the Commodores down and making the shots and trailed just three, 45-42, at the break.
But the second half proved to be a near repeat as the Commodores were able to get the open looks off the LSU defense and the offense had a brief lull for the Tigers and Vandy built the lead to 20, 76-56, with 9:05 to go.
But LSU against mounted a charge paced by the Baton Rouge native Sims, who hit four trays in a span from 8:15 to 6:53 to cut the Vandy lead in more than half, to just nine, 80-71. LSU would get it to six at the 4:08 mark on a Blakeney jumper and four, 90-86, on a three-pointer by Blakeney with 44 seconds to play but Vanderbilt made six-of-eight free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
The Tigers travel to Missouri for its first road conference game of the year on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (SEC Network, LSU Sports Radio Network). LSU returns home to play in the Maravich Center on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 2:30 p.m. against Mississippi State.
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HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
“I thought coming in to the night the guys realized the sense of urgency that we needed to play with against a team that is one of the national leaders in terms of 3 point percentage and certainly a team that is leading our conference in three point percentage. We knew the type of defense that needed to be played. I thought we allowed them to get comfortable. In the first half they hit some shots and became a very confident team, but credit to our guys for the effort prior to the half and cutting it to a one-point-deficit prior to them hitting a buzzer shot at the end. In the second half it played out the same. They got off to a good start in the second half and made it an uphill battle for us. But again credit to our guys for playing hard and never giving up. They played extremely hard and exhausted it on the floor in trying to come back and get a victory. We shot almost 60 percent from the field and 60 percent from the three-point line. We did not lose the rebound war. Most nights when you score 89 points you’re going to win the basketball game. You have to credit those guys for making plays and making shots and getting out of here with a hard fought win.”
On the team fighting back after getting down by 20 points…
“I thought our guys fought extremely hard down the stretch, which was important and it was good to see. Unfortunately we had that type of deficit because they shot the ball well. But I thought they stayed engaged, they trusted and believed. I thought Wayde Sims did an excellent job of knocking down shots. I thought our guys had to play hard on the defensive end of the floor to get us engaged and allow the passes we were making to make sure we cut into the deficit. It certainly could’ve turned into a big deficit at the end. But I thought the fight that they gave by continuing to cut it to three or four points and putting themselves in position with the ball and having an opportunity to maybe get a steal. Unfortunately fouls were called and we didn't get those opportunities. But if we continue to fight like that I think we have a chance to grow and get better. We have a lot of conference games left. Unfortunately we didn't protect our floor at home, which is important for us. We have to go out on the road and get it balanced out. We have to go play a tough game on the road and hopefully we get a victory.”
LSU Player Quotes
GUARD ANTONIO BLAKENEY
On Vanderbilt’s defensive philosophy…
“They were going from man to zone each time down. They were changing it up. We just were not patient enough to see what they were in. We knew they would do that but we are supposed to be patient, call plays for the zone, calls plays for the man defense, whichever one they are in.”
FORWARD WAYDE SIMS
On LSU’s defensive performance…
“I kind of felt like we dug ourselves in a hole in the first half. We were not able to bounce back and take the lead.”
On hitting four straight threes…
“After I hit the first one I felt like I was on, so I just kept shooting the ball and it just kept falling.”
Vanderbilt Head Coach Quotes
HEAD COACH BRYCE DREW
Opening Statement …
“Our guys have been practicing well and we’ve played significantly better the past two weeks. I’m really happy for our guys to see a lot of their hard work the last couple weeks come out in this game today. I thought we had a lot of players step up over the course of this game. I thought Payton Willis and Matthew Fisher-Davis were tremendous in the first half and Riley (LaChance) those last seven or eight minutes was sensational in how he closed out the game. LSU had some tough news today, but I thought they responded well and shot the ball extremely well. We were definitely in a position to win this game at the end.”
On only making one field goal the last six minutes of the first half compared to high scoring the rest of the game …
“LSU picked up their pressure there a little bit. They made some shots and picked up their intensity. We had some decent looks and missed a dunk, we had some other looks that we had made earlier in the game that we missed. But basketball is a game of momentum and there were a lot of momentum shifts. That was definitely their shift during that segment where they took momentum and we had a hard time stopping them.”
On Nolan Cressler’s buzzer-beating layup going into halftime …
“We went into the locker room and we definitely told the guys that was a big basket. I thought Nolan made a great move scoring over the top of (Duop) Reath and it definitely gave us the boost we needed.”
On adjusting to LSU’s press …
“We hadn’t seen that from them and so that was something new. We have a lot of press breaks and our guys jumped into the formations that we were supposed to. Luke (Kornet) is such a big target and does a great job passing. He was key in the press being available when we needed help.”