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February 22, 2006

LSU hands Vandy fifth home loss

NASHVILLE -- Sometimes, you know what's coming and you can't stop it anyway.

LSU, on the strength of a 46-29 rebounding margin - including 20 offensive boards - held off a late Vanderbilt rally to hand the Commodores their fifth home loss this season.

"We knew the backboards could be a problem, and unfortunately, they were," understated Vandy Coach Kevin Stallings after VU's 77-66 loss.

The Tigers' Tyrus Thomas and Glen Davis each posted double-doubles. Thomas, a freshman, had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Davis, a sophomore, added 16 and 11. Meanwhile, point guard Darrel Mitchell torched Vandy for 21 points, five assists, and five rebounds of his own.

The early going was good for the Commodores, who spurted out to a 19-12 lead after Dan Cage sunk a three-pointer at the 11:45 mark.

LSU then embarked on a 16-2 run over the next 7:15 to take a 28-23 lead, but the Commodores battled back with a 7-0 run capped by Julian Terrell's layup at 2:20. VU's two surges were led by Shan Foster, who had yet another outstanding first half with 13 points.

However, Mitchell hit a long three-pointer to just beat the halftime buzzer to give LSU a 31-30 lead, and the Tigers would have the lead for good.

And in the first 5:07 of the half, LSU would do nothing but pad the lead. The Tigers jumped out to a 47-34 margin which included three-pointers by Davis, Mitchell, and Garrett Temple plus a layup and free throw by Davis.

The lead stayed in double-digits for a good bit of the half, but Vandy employed a full-court press and made a late run. VU's Derrick Byars hit three three-pointers in a 49-second stretch, the last coming at 6:25 to cut the margin to 61-58.

But the Commodores missed three-pointers their next four times down the floor, and the window soon shut. Mitchell hit another three for a 64-58 lead at 4:23, and Vandy got no closer than 64-62 at 3:16 after Alex Gordon hit two free throws.

LSU then ended the game on a 13-4 run, including a 10-for-13 performance from the foul line.

Foster, who scored just two points in the second half, led Vandy with 15 points. Byars led Vandy with 18, and Terrell added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The loss, which dropped VU to 14-10 and 5-8 in the SEC, ensured that the Commodores will finish at or below .500 in the SEC for the eighth-straight year and put a major dent in their NCAA Tournament hopes.

The Commodores travel to South Carolina on Saturday night. The Gamecocks beat Vandy in Nashville earlier in the month.


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