Senior Duop Reath recorded a double-double with a career high 31 points and 13 boards
Gus Stark

Men's Basketball Falls on the Road to Vanderbilt, 77-71

Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

 NASHVILLE, Tennessee – LSU’s valiant attempt to rally from 16 points down in the second half fell just short as Vanderbilt was able to hold off the Tigers in the final two minutes for a 77-71 win Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium.

The Tigers, down 46-30 with 16:54 to play in the second half, rode the hot hand of senior forward Duop Reath to take a 65-64 lead with 2:21 to play to cap a 35-18 scoring run. But Vandy grabbed the lead back on two free throws with two minutes to play and then after a turnover, Vandy capitalized with a dunk by Seban Lee to make it, 68-65. LSU got within one point only once the rest of the way.

LSU dropped its first game of the season on the road after three wins and is now 11-7 and 2-4 in the SEC going into a Tuesday 8 p.m. game at the Maravich Center against Texas A&M. Vanderbilt, loser of four straight coming into the game is now 7-12 and 2-5 in the league.

Reath scored 18 second half points to lead LSU with a career high 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting which included one trey and four free throws. He added 13 rebounds, giving him his second double double of the season and his ninth of his two years at LSU. He also added three blocks in 34 minutes of play.

Skylar Mays was the other player in double figures with 13 points. Brandon Rachal came off the bench to get eight points in 18 minutes and leading scorer Tremont Waters was held to seven points and four assists before fouling out late in the game.

Three Vanderbilt players four their mark for 58 of their 77 points – Riley LaChance (26 points, 4 treys, 6-6 FT line), Jeff Roberson (20 points) and Saben Lee (12 points, five assists).

Vanderbilt built a 34-28 halftime advantage making 14-of-27 from the field, including 5-10 three-pointers. LSU shot just 37.7 percent in the opening half (10-of-28) with two treys. The Tigers were 6-8 at the line, compared to 1-5 for the Commodores.

The Tigers, in a rare start, got the opening tap but missed a shot and Vandy came down and scored on a Robertson jumper. LSU missed a trey and Vanderbilt came with a three by LaChance. After Reath got LSU on the board, Payton Willis hit a three and Roberson made a layup to make it 10-2 Vandy five minutes in. That forced LSU to play from behind the entire contest.

The Tigers worked hard, cutting the Vandy lead to couple three times before tying the game on an Aaron Epps bucket at 15-15 with 8:53 to go in the first half. But LSU couldn’t take advantage of the situation and gave up the next nine points to Vanderbilt and the Commodores were able to go in with the six point advantage.

Things did not go the Tigers way to start the second half as Vandy was able to go on a 12-2 run to advance the lead out to 46-30 with 16:54 to go.

But after a made free throw by Brandon Sampson, Coach Will Wade put the Tigers in a press that resulted in a steal by Sampson and a dunk. On the ensuing inbounds, Mays came up with the steal, missed a shot, but then Wayde Sims had the follow dunk to make it 46-35 with 16:03 to play.

After a Joe Toye layup with 10:44 to play that made it 56-46, LSU went on a pivotal run as Randy Onwuasor got a layup, Mays hit two free throws, Reath had a dunk and after a Waters steal, Reath had a layin to cut the Vandy margin to 56-54 with 8:56 to play.

The Commodores would eventually get the game back to six points at 62-56 with 5:35 to play before LSU came on its last charge.

Reath would make one-of-two free throws to cut the game to five and would score with 4:16 to play to cut the game to 62-59 in favor of Vandy. The Commodores pushed it to five, 64-59, on another Lee layup, before Daryl Edwards would hit a three to make it 64-62 with 3:36 left.

After an LSU timeout, Reath blocked a layup attempt by Roberson and after a foul, made one free throw to make it 64-63 with 2:59 to play. Vandy turned the ball over and Reath got the ball in the paint and scored to give LSU its lone lead at 65-64 with 2:21 to go.

LSU could not stay the course in the final minute and Vanderbilt made the necessary free throws at the end to outscore the Tigers, 13-6, for the final margin.

Both teams shot 50 percent in the second half with LSU making 17-of-34 attempts and Vandy 11-of-22. Both teams made two treys, but while LSU was 7-of-13 in the second half from the line, Vanderbilt was 19-of-25.

For the game, LSU shot 43.5 percent (27-of-62) and just 4-of-19 (21 percent from arc) and 13-of-21 at the line. LSU out rebounded the Commodores, 38-33 and 14-7 on the offensive glass, resulting in a 19-12 advantage in second chance points.