Vandy Pulls Away Late from Men's Hoops

LSU's Justin Hamilton fights for a loose ball.
LSU's Justin Hamilton fights for a loose ball.
Associated Press
Matt Dunaway
Matt Dunaway

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt used a strong finishing kick and scored 13 of the last 15 points over the final five minutes to emerge with a 76-61 victory over the LSU men's basketball team Wednesday at Memorial Gym.

The Commodores (17-7, 6-3 SEC) won its seventh consecutive decision over LSU (13-10, 3-6 SEC) since the 2006 season and rode their core veteran group of three seniors and one junior to the win. Festus Ezeli, Josh Jenkins, Jeffrey Taylor and Brad Tinsley combined for 69 of Vandy's 76 points.  

The Tigers had four players register in double figures for the second straight contest. Storm Warren converted on six of his eight shots and led the way with 13 points off the bench, his highest since LSU's SEC opener versus Ole Miss on Jan. 7. The Monroe native also garnered two blocked shots and moved past Glen Davis for fourth place on LSU's all-time list.

Anthony Hickey and Ralston Turner turned in 12 points apiece. Turner went 5-of-8 from the floor and notched back-to-back double digit games for the first time since the South Alabama and Houston tilts back in November. Hickey was held without an assist for the first time in his collegiate career.

Justin Hamilton tallied 10 points to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Andre Stringer equaled a season-best and distributed five assists.

Down 59-49 with 6:21 remaining in the second half, LSU mounted a rally behind Turner and Warren. The Tigers ran off 10 of the next 14 points ignited by a Turner three-pointer from the right wing. Warren fired in a traditional three-point play off a put-back, buried a jumper and two Stringer free throws pulled LSU back to 63-59 at the 4:47 mark. 

Vanderbilt responded with an Ezeli dunk and a Jenkins triple over the next 41 seconds to snatch the momentum back. The Commodores also forced LSU into four missed shots and two turnovers down the stretch to secure the 76-61 triumph.

Ezeli was a strong force on the interior and equaled his season-high with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He has poured in double figures in six of his last seven outings.

Jenkins, the SEC's leading scorer, tacked on 14 of his 20 points during the second half. It marked the 11th time on the season that Jenkins has eclipsed the 20-point plateau.

Taylor provided 19 points on 8-of-13 from the floor, while Tinsley added a balanced effort with nine points, five assists and three rebounds. 

Vandy shot 50 percent (27-of-54) from the floor highlighted by a 15-for-23 effort in the second half. The Tigers countered with a 36.9 shooting clip (24-of-65) but misfired on 21 of 24 from three-point territory. 

With the score tied at 8-8, Vanderbilt pieced together 12 of the next 16 points to grab a 20-12 advantage at the 9:09 mark of the opening half. The spurt was capped by back-to-back Ezeli dunks.

LSU responded with eight straight points over the next 3:18 to draw even at 20-20. The Tigers got a pair of baskets from Hamilton and Warren, respectively.

Right before halftime, Hickey canned a three-pointer to put LSU ahead 27-25 with eight seconds left. The Commodores answered as Taylor connected on a lay-up as time expired to deadlock the score at 27-27 going into the locker room.
LSU opens up a two-game homestand Saturday versus Alabama. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN2 along with

The LSU Sports Radio Network also will broadcast the game on 100.7 FM (The Tiger) in the Baton Rouge area. Jim Hawthorne, Kevin Ford and Ricky Blanton will call the action.




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