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LSU Basketball Defeats Vanderbilt 77-69 for Fourth Consecutive Win

Jalen Cook dropped a season-high 28 points to help extends LSU's winning streak to four games.

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LSU Basketball Defeats Vanderbilt 77-69 for Fourth Consecutive Win

BATON ROUGE, La. – Jalen Cook netted a season-high 28 points and the team logged a season-best 87.0 free throw percentage (20-of-23) as LSU defeated Vanderbilt 77-69 in their SEC home opener Tuesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers improve to 10-5 this season and 2-0 in SEC play, while the Commodores fall to 5-10 and 0-2 in league play. LSU is 2-0 in conference play for the first time in four seasons.

Next for LSU is a 5 p.m. CT tip on Saturday, Jan. 13, at No. 16 Auburn inside Neville Arena in Auburn, Ala., on SEC Network.

LSU continued to be more physical than its opponent as they owned the paint with 44 points, turned in its eighth game of the season with double-digit steals (11) and outscored Vandy 18-7 in points off turnovers. The Tigers also took care of the ball, keeping their turnovers down to single digits at eight, and turned over the Commodores 15 times.

It was the first time this season LSU had single-digit turnovers for the game.

Cook – who led a trio of double-figure scorers, shot 10-of-17 from the floor and grabbed four rebounds to finish two points off his career high. Jordan Wright followed with 15 points, including 7-of-8 at the charity stripe against his former team, and had four rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Mike Williams III scored 10 points and turned in a career-high eight rebounds, including six boards in the first half alone. Williams also recorded two steals in the win.

Vanderbilt finished with five players in double-digit scoring, including Ezra Manjon’s team-high 19 points. Ven-Allen Lubin and Tyrin Lawrence scored 11 points each, and Jason Rivera-Torres and Evan Taylor concluded with 10.

An up-and-down first half saw the Tigers take a 30-28 lead into the half. LSU used a 15-6 run to build a 19-12 advantage and led by as many as nine points at 21-12 in the opening 20 minutes. However, Vanderbilt strung together a pair of 6-0 runs and tied the game 28 before Wright knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:43 left in the half to reestablish the slight intermission lead.

Another fast start to the second half lifted the Tigers to victory as they stretched their lead to 15 at 49-34, highlighted by an 8-0 run with 14:10 on the clock. LSU led by double digits for most of the half until a late 7-0 run by the Commodores cut the lead to seven points at 65-58 with 4:28 left to play. Vanderbilt got as close as six points at 67-61, but LSU withstood the run as they finished 10-of-11 at the free throw line down the stretch to hang on for the win.

Although it was not the best offensive night for LSU, shooting 42.2 percent from the floor (27-64) and just 3-of-16 from 3-point range (18.8%), the defense was able to hold Vanderbilt to a 25.9 (7-of-27) 3-point field goal percentage in addition to their superior foul shooting.

LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
Opening Statement …
“Really proud of our players, we found a way to win. I thought our effort on the defensive side of the ball was terrific. We won the turnover battle. Obviously, I would have liked to have been a little more efficient on the offensive side of the basketball. Ultimately, the goal is to win. I thought our players on Saturday night emptied the tank, everything that we had from a toughness, an emotion, a passion standpoint. The goal was to get back, prepare Sunday and Monday, and find a way to win tonight. I am thrilled with our guys’ effort to get that done.”

On the growth and improvement of the defense …
“There have been some minor changes, but it is really all on the players and their ability to compete at a high level in practice. We had a lot of practice time, the way the schedule fell, and I thought our players maximized that time to get better. The areas that were really weaknesses for us early in the season, such as, defensive rebounding, defending the three-point line, and taking care of the basketball. The amount of growth and improvement there over the last month is really impressive from our players. They have gone from weaknesses to strengths. We still have a lot of work to do there, but by not turning the ball over as much, we give ourselves a chance offensively. Limiting the opponent’s second chance points and taking away the three-point line have been a good formula for us to keep improving as a team.”

On the increase of rebounds …
“I think there is some technique there through drill work and practice, but the majority is the beauty of rebounding. I think it was the late, great Skip Prosser (former Wake Forest Men’s Basketball Head Coach) that always talked about the rebounds being addressed to ‘whom it may concern’. I think those rebounds have been of more concern to our players, their effort to chase them, and the physicality of the glass. We were not as good on the offensive glass tonight as we were Saturday, but the defensive rebounding was really strong.”

Guard Jalen Cook
On the difference between the first and second halves…
“I was trying to turn the energy up early. Against Texas A&M we got off to a good start, so I was trying to carry that over to tonight.”

On the focus of the second half …
“Just knowing the work we put in, the rim feels wide open at times. We are just trying to get a win and make a statement. It was good for us to attack the rim and play inside out.”

Guard Jordan Wright
On setting the tone for SEC conference play…
“We know how important it is to build momentum in this league. After the game against Texas A&M, we understood how vital road wins are and what they can do for this team. Getting off to a good start is a great way to build momentum and confidence and put the league on notice. We want to come out, play tough, and stack wins together.

On improving the teams’ perimeter defense…
“Early on in the season, we were soft defensively, but now, we are being a lot more physical, and that has impacted the shots these teams take; they are a lot more contested consistently. Shooting and being in a rhythm when guarding teams is much more challenging. Getting to their body quickly and being tough on screens have made a massive difference for our defense, and the percentages show that.

Vanderbilt Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse Quotes

“Towards the end of the game we had some opportunities in a two- or three-possession game. But I did feel like we shot ourselves in the foot early in the game. Our turnovers gave them too many easy points. Our carelessness is not taking care of the ball in transition. Our bad offense led to some break outs for them and I thought we played good defense, got in transition. We talk about not making cross-court passes and for whatever reason we don’t practice it and we don’t do it. And we just get in the game and for whatever reason we get sped up and we make plays that we aren’t taught to make. We’ve got to improve in those areas. That’s where the game is and I thought we had opportunities and some looks that we were capable of making that we didn’t make. I thought for the most part what we gave them without them having to earn it was the difference in the game.”