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SEC Tournament - 2nd Round - Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN

6-seed Vandy defeats 14-seed LSU with torrid shooting

204 days ago
Grace Wesoly | SEC Staff

Nashville, Tenn. --- No. 6 seed Vanderbilt (19-13, 11-7 SEC) overwhelmed No. 14 seed LSU, 77-68, in the second round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena.

Tyrin Lawrence stacked up an impressive 22 points, marking his fourth 20-point game of the season, all of which occurred against SEC opponents. Jordan Wright claimed a career-high 15 rebounds while recording his second double-double of the season with 15 points. Ezra Manjon (17 points) and Paul Lewis (11 points) also contributed to the Commodores' dominant offensive performance.

Senior KJ Williams, playing in what turned out to be his final college game, acted as LSU's fighting hope, scoring 26 and grabbing 11 boards. Trae Hannibal also recorded a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds) as well as four assists while Cam Hayes tacked on 16 points.

Vanderbilt repeatedly denied the Tigers, recording eight blocks and limiting them to 33.3% field-goal shooting while logging their own field-goal shooting of 46.4% in the victory.

After some back-and-forth to open, Colin Smith drilled one from beyond the arc and then laid another in on a fast break during back-to-back possessions to begin to give Vanderbilt some separation with an 11-5 lead.

A second-chance driving layup by Manjon set the tone as the Commodores took off, firing three triples and forcing continuous drives to the basket to put them ahead by a daunting 14 points at the 7:47 mark, 28-14. Williams fought to keep the Tigers in view, logging each of their five points during Vanderbilt's 12-5 run.

Following a few more shots from distance and a flurry of free throws, LSU found themselves back in the fight, 28-22, with less than six minutes left in the first half. After an exchange of points in the paint and more action from the free throw line from both ends of the court, Vanderbilt held onto an eight-point lead, 37-29, entering the half.

Vanderbilt outshot LSU, 46.7% to 33.3% from the field, in the first half as well as controlling the glass, 21-16, and points in paint, 20-10.

Vandy rode out the near-perfect shooting by Lawrence as he racked up 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 at the free throw line in the first half. Lawrence went on to make 6 of 7 from the field and 9 of 11 free-throw attempts on the night.

Williams came onto the court for the second half with a comeback in mind, as he scored a quick seven to quickly cut the Tigers' deficit to 37-36 only three minutes into the second half. But Vanderbilt bounced back to mitigate the damage as Manjon hit a jump shot and poured one in from afar before Lawrence put the cap on their own seven-point run to pull away again, 44-36.

Despite a persistent Vanderbilt offense, Williams continued to chip away at the difference, draining his fourth 3-pointer of the game to reach 20 points with 12:48 remaining. A couple of two-point shots put the Tigers at a single-digit deficit; however, it wouldn't last long as the Commodores quickly set them back 13, 60-47, just over halfway through the second.

Vanderbilt continued the lopsided trend for the remainder of the game, dominating the paint and the boards to snatch the win and solidify a trip to the quarterfinals.

Up Next

Vanderbilt will face 3-seed Kentucky (21-10, 12-6 SEC) in the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament on Friday starting 25 minutes after the conclusion of Game 9 between 10-seed Arkansas and 2-seed Texas A&M. The game will be aired on SEC Network.

LSU (14-19, 2-16 SEC) is eliminated from the tournament.