LSU (17-11) at Vanderbilt (15-13)
GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores will close out their home schedule for the 2013-14 season on Thursday night when they welcome the LSU Tigers to Memorial Gymnasium for an SEC clash.
LSU most recently had the misfortune of playing the nation's No. 1 team on the road on Saturday, when it fell to Florida, 79-61, for its seventh consecutive road loss. The Tigers' woes away from Baton Rogue aside, they are still in the midst of a solid season at 17-11 overall and 8-8 in conference play.
Vanderbilt has been on the downswing of late as well with losses in three of its last four games, most recently getting embarrassed at Tennessee on Saturday, 76-38, to dip to 15-13 and 7-9 in the league. The Commodores have enjoyed a successful run in Nashville, however, winning 10 of 15 matchups at Memorial Gymnasium.
LSU won the first meeting this season in Baton Rouge, 81-58 on Jan. 18, but Vanderbilt still leads the all-time series by a 60-50 count.
The Tigers never trailed in their latest bout against the country's top team, as they went into the halftime locker room with a 16-point deficit and never threatened the Gators from that point forward. They were outshot from the field, 57.4 percent to 38.3 percent, and were plagued by a game-high 15 turnovers. Johnny O'Bryant III racked up the production despite the setback, scoring 18 points to go with seven rebounds. Jordan Mickey tallied a double- double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Jarell Martin and Anthony Hickey poured in 12 points apiece.
LSU is usually much more productive on the offensive end of the court this season, as it shoots just shy of 45 percent from the field for 76.8 ppg, which has been able to successfully mask a lackluster scoring defense (72.1 ppg). The squad also boasts a strong +4.2 rebounding margin thanks to its dynamic duo in the frontcourt O'Bryant (15.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Mickey (13.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.6 bpg), who both shoot greater than 49 percent from the field. Andre Stringer (11.6 ppg), Martin (10.3 ppg), Hickey (9.4 ppg) and Shavon Coleman (8.8 ppg) also bring regular contributions to the deep squad.
The Commodores suffered their most lopsided loss of their all-time series with Tennessee over the weekend in the 38-point decision and had their worst offensive showing of the season, shooting a miserable 22.4 percent from the field while finishing with more turnovers (14) than field goals (11). No one finished in double figures on the afternoon, with Kyle Fuller and Dai-Jon Parker leading the way with nine and eight points, respectively.
Scoring points has been a problem all season long for Vanderbilt, which puts up just 65.0 ppg on disappointing percentages from the field (.437), 3-point range (.322) and the foul line (.653). Luckily its stout defensive effort (.405, 65.3 ppg) has kept it competitive. Rod Odom leads the way with 13.8 ppg, having drained 78 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip. Fuller scores 11.4 ppg and hands out 4.3 apg, while Damian Jones (11.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg) and James Siakam (7.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg) have been solid in the paint.
Although LSU has been the more impressive team overall, its road struggles are too much to overlook in this matchup against a Commodores squad that steps up their defensive play at home.
GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores will close out their home schedule for
the 2013-14 season on Thursday night when they welcome the LSU Tigers to
Memorial Gymnasium for an SEC clash.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee.
Television: ESPN2. Home Record: LSU 13-2, Vanderbilt 10-5. Away Record: LSU
2-8, Vanderbilt 3-7. Neutral Record: LSU 2-1, Vanderbilt 2-1. Conference
Record: LSU 8-8, Vanderbilt 7-9. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 60-50.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 7 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Vanderbilt 68, LSU 66