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Rapid Reaction: Vanderbilt 76, LSU 61

2/8/2012

LSU acquitted itself well in a hostile environment at Vanderbilt. The Tigers (13-10, 3-6) held the lead five separate times and refused to let the high-flying Vanderbilt offense run away with the game. But it just wasn't enough as the Commodores (17-7, 6-3) managed to outpace LSU to a 76-61 win.

Dropping daggers: Vandy got big efforts from both of its main scoring threats in guard John Jenkins and forward Jeffery Taylor. The duo pestered LSU's defense all night, with Jenkins notching 20 points on 5-of-9 shooting and Taylor contributing another 19.

Every time the Tigers made a run at the lead, one of the Commodores' two shooters was there to knock them back. With Vanderbilt holding a 40-35 lead with 13 minutes remaining in the game, Taylor stepped up and drilled two treys in the span of 35 seconds to push the lead into double digits.

LSU whittled the deficit down to 65-59 with about four minutes remaining, but Jenkins shut the door. The junior dropped another pair of 3-pointers in all of 59 seconds to push the lead to 71-59, and the game was all but over.

Beaten in the paint: While Jenkins and Taylor did their share of damage, the Tigers couldn't keep up with the Commodores in the post. LSU kept pace on the boards, matching Vanderbilt's 37 rebounds, but the Commodores outscored the Tigers by a whopping 38-22 inside. Most of that came from Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli, who put up a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

Ezeli dominated LSU forwards Justin Hamilton and Johnny O'Bryant, forcing both big men into foul trouble early in the second half and limiting the pair to eight combined points.

14 percent: Against an offense as explosive as Vanderbilt's, the Tigers were going to need some fireworks of their own to keep pace.

They didn't get them. LSU went a putrid 3-of-21 from 3-point range (14.3 percent). The Tigers shot a respectable 37 percent from the field, but their inability to find a big play kept them from keeping pace with the Commodores.

The Tigers return home Saturday for a rematch with Alabama, who beat them, 69-53, earlier this season. Vanderbilt stays home for the weekend, with a big date against No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday.