Vanderbilt didn’t get off to the start of the SEC schedule that they wanted as the LSU Tigers downed the Commodores 90-82 in the SEC opener for both teams. LSU, led by freshman phenom Ben Simmons had their way with Vanderbilt inside, out-scoring the Commodores 26-18 in the paint and out-rebounding Vanderbilt 40-29.
Vanderbilt, playing without injured big-man Luke Kornet, couldn’t find the answer against LSU’s star Simmons, who had 36 points. Simmons, the pre-season pick for SEC Player of the Year and a projected #1 NBA selection, was as advertised, hitting on 10 of 15 shots from the field and going 16 of 19 from the line. When Simmons wasn’t doing the damage inside, LSU’s Keith Hornsby hurt the Commodores from the perimeter, hitting on 4 of 7 from outside the arc and finishing with 23 on points on his own.
The Commodores started slowly, falling behind 5-0, but came right back to lead 10-5. The Tigers immediately responded with their own little run to retake the lead 11-10 with 12:38 in the 1st half.The game was tight throughout the remainder of the half with 5 ties and 11 lead changes with Vanderbilt leading 35-34 at the half.
The game stayed close into the 2nd half, and Vanderbilt led 51-50 with 14:19 left in the game, but LSU really started to pour it on, re-taking the lead at 53-51 with a 3-pointer from Hornsby. Vanderbilt wouldn’t score again for almost 4 minutes, while LSU open up a 62-53 lead with 9:02 remaining. Vanderbilt cut the lead to 4 at 70-66 with 5:00 to go, but could get no closer as LSU went on a 15-6 run to lead 85-72 with :53 seconds remaining, before the final of 90-82.
Vanderbilt put 5 players in double figures scoring with Wade Baldwin IV scoring 17, Jeff Roberson adding 13, Riley LaChance and Damian Jones each with 12, and Matthew Fisher -Davis netting 11. Baldwin IV led the Commodores with 6 rebounds.
Ben Simmons led the Tigers with 36 points and 14 boards.
Vanderbilt (8-6, 0-1) will travel to Arkansas next for a game Tuesday.
LSU (8-5,1-0) will host Kentucky on Tuesday.