Let’s start out on a good note, this was the first time all year LSU played a great team on the road and hung with them for most of it. Vanderbilt is a NCAA tournament team, and if LSU could have done this or that a little better who knows what could have happened.
The theme of the night was simple: LSU would fall behind by three possessions or more, but each time closed the gap. Early on, LSU had the right idea on offense, get the ball inside and let the combo of Justin Hamilton (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Johnny O’Bryant (4 points, 6 rebounds) go to work. When that didn’t work, have the guards cut to the lane for easy field goals. The plan worked so well that they cut a late eight point lead by Vandy into a halftime tie at 27.
In the first half, Ralston Turner (12 points, 5-8 shooting), Anthony Hickey (12 points, 5-16 shooting) and Andre Stringer (4 points, 5 assist, 1-11 shooting) all tried to get to the basket, but in the second they stopped. You would have though they were being served child support papers every time they went to the basket, and what happens when they aren’t driving to the goal? That’s right, completely unnecessary three point shots. When a team is only shooting three of 20 from outside, the thought should cross a coaches mind that maybe this isn’t the right offensive plan…it didn’t.
Vanderbilt, who apparently is coached by Kevin from the office (who knew), figured out during the half time break how to beat LSU and it turned out to be a Festus Miracle. Most of Festus Ezeil (21 points, 8-10 shooting) points came from dunks or simple layups. Vandy got the ball inside and let the big man either score or force Hamilton or O’Bryant to foul. The plan easily worked and both LSU big men were on the bench for most of the second half.
Even with this all going on, LSU was still able to hang around, The Tigers started the second half taking a 33-30 lead, but Vandy went on a 16-2 run led by two big three pointer by Jeffery Taylor (19 points). The two threes were made against a unique style of defense by LSU where they just left the best three point shooter in the conference wide open.
LSU would make a small run to get back into the game thanks to Storm Warren. Warren added 13 points off the bench and has mastered the mid-range jump shot and ugly, second-chance shot. He would help cut the lead to four, but then LSU reverted back to the special defense I talked about earlier. Except this time it was directed a John Jenkins (20 points). Jenkins, who is the leading scorer in the SEC, made two easy threes to stretch the lead back to double digits and that was how it ended.
Other than LSU keeping the game competitive for most of the game, there isn’t a lot to like from the game. LSU did shoot 100 percent from the free throw line, but only attempted 10 shots. It amazes me with strong post-players like Hamilton, O’Bryant and Warren, they can’t force the defense to commit more fouls on them. The same goes for the speedy Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer. It is sad when Eddie Ludwig get to the line more than anyone else on the team. Eddie was (4-4) from the line in only nine minutes of play. This isn’t a knock on Eddie, but the five players listed above played an average of 26 minutes each, and only shot (5-5) from the line. For comparison purposes, Vandy got to the line 23 times.
The loss was expect, so no since to start the website firethevest.com. I still like the team’s confidence on offense. Even though they are struggling to make shots, guys like Turner and Hickey are putting pressure on the defense instead on settling for bad shots. Eventually some of these shots are going to fall for LSU; hopefully it will start Saturday when LSU host Alabama. The loss drops LSU to 13-10 overall, and 3-6 in the SEC.
Tags: Andre Stringer Anthony Hickey Basketball Eddie Ludwig Festus Ezeil Jeffery Taylor John Jenkins Johnny O'Bryant Justin Hamilton Kevin Stallings LSU Ralston Turner SEC Storm Warren Trent Johnson Vanderbilt