“It’s the same old story” | Second-half comeback not enough as LSU falls to Vanderbilt, 77-71

Duop Reath scored 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, but slow starts to each half dug a hole too deep for LSU to come back from, and missed rebound opportunities on a pair of late Vanderbilt free throw misses proved costly, as the Tigers dropped their third straight and first SEC road game, 77-71 to Vanderbilt.

Here’s a blow-by-blow recap, with stats and quotes below.

FIRST HALF

Vanderbilt (7-12, 2-5 SEC)  jumped out to a 10-2 lead and led wire-to-wire in the first half. The hosts forced misses on eight of LSU’s first nine shots. Freshman Brandon Rachal pulled the Tigers (11-7, 2-4 SEC) back at the free throw line with four straight, and an Aaron Epps jumper with 8:53 tied things at 15.

The Commodores raced back in front on the heels of a 9-0 run, including five straight from Riley LaChance. The senior guard finished with 26 and scored 15 before the break. Jeff Roberson’s layup with 6:51 on the clock put the hosts ahead 24-15 before Reath’s jumper broke the slump.

Reath would score LSU’s next seven and 11 of the final 13 Tiger points of the first half. He sunk two free throws to enter halftime with LSU trailing 34-28.

Led by LaChance, Vanderbilt outshot LSU 52-36 percent in the first half and 50-25 percent from deep, while scoring 12 points off turnovers.

SECOND HALF

Another slow LSU start to the second half proved costly. Vanderbilt scored 12 of the first 14 points of the half. The first nine were courtesy of Roberson, who finished with 20. The Tigers jumped into a press to score five points in 12 seconds, thanks to back-t0-back dunks from Brandon Sampson and Wayde Sims. That press, and a smaller lineup, would spark a Tiger comeback.

The Vandy lead would stay in double digits for seven minutes until Skylar Mays sunk two free throws. Then, Tremont Waters finished a layup to trim the deficit to eight. Reath’s putback slam would half that, and his layup would half that, turning a Vanderbilt lead once as large as 16 to 56-54 with 8:56 remaining.

After four straight points from Saben Lee pushed the hosts ahead by six, Daryl Edwards sunk a three with 3:35 left. That shot put LSU within a bucket again, 64-62. Reath delivered LSU’s first lead of the night with 2:18 to go on a layup fed nicely by Waters. But LaChance sunk two freebies and Lee slammed home off a Waters turnover for a 68-65 Vanderbilt advantage. Rachal put back a Waters miss to pull LSU back within one, but Lee answered with another layup through contact and a 70-67 Commodore edge. Vanderbilt won the game at the line, rebounding two misses late to gain extra possessions. Reath’s baseline jumper with five seconds left gave him a career-high 31 points. However, it left LSU two possessions down with too little time left.

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