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February 22, 2006

Mitchell leads LSU over Vanderbilt

Box score

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Darrel Mitchell scored 21 points and No. 24 LSU beat Vanderbilt 77-66 Wednesday night to clinch a second straight Southeastern Conference Western Division title.

The Tigers (19-7, 11-2) gave coach John Brady his first victory in Memorial Gym in five visits and LSU's first here since Jan. 10, 1996. Kentucky's Rupp Arena is the only SEC gym left where Brady has yet to win.

The Commodores had dominated this series in Nashville, winning 33 of the first 45. But Vanderbilt (14-10, 5-8) dropped a fourth home conference this season and a second straight to a ranked team.

Glen Davis added 16 points and 11 rebounds for LSU, and Tyrus Thomas had 15 points and 14 rebounds as the Tigers used their size advantage to dominate inside. They outrebounded Vanderbilt 46-29 and outscored the Commodores 34-20 in the paint, which gave them a decided advantage at the free throw line (24-of-35 to 11-of-13).

LSU led by as many as 13 points in the second half only to watch the desperate Commodores rally within 64-62 with 3:16 left on two free throws by Alex Gordon.

But Davis answered on the other end with a dunk that shook the backboard, then Gordon lost the ball under his own basket to Davis on Vandy's next possession. Davis hit two free throws that helped seal the victory.

Derrick Byars led Vanderbilt with 18 points, while Shan Foster had 13 of his 15 in the first half and Julian Terrelladded 10.

LSU took control by opening the second half by hitting its first four shots in an 11-2 spurt that included a 3-pointer from Davis, who had hit only two of his first 15 attempts this season. The Tigers were up 53-41 on a jumper by Tasmin Mitchellwith 11:24 left.

Byars got the Commodores back in the game with three straight 3s, the last pulling Vanderbilt within 61-58 with 6:24 remaining in a display that also revived the crowd.

The Tigers took the lead for good when Darrel Mitchell hit LSU's first 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to make it 31-30. It was a rough half for LSU with Vanderbilt twice leading by as many as seven points, the last at 21-14 on a one-handed shot by Foster.

The Commodores didn't turn the ball over for the first 10 minutes, and Terrell's tip-in of a missed layup by Gordon gave Vandy a 30-28 lead with 2:25 left in the first half.

For more coverage of the LSU Tigers, check out TigerBait.com.
For more coverage of the Vanderbilt Commodores, check out VandySports.com.

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