Vanderbilt snaps 4-game skid, beats LSU 77-71
By TERESA M. WALKER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Riley LaChance spent a lot of time in the gym over the past week shooting free throws and working on his shot after missing three late in a loss to Kentucky.
The Vanderbilt senior got a chance at a bit of redemption Saturday afternoon and didn't miss.
LaChance hit two free throws with 2:01 left to put Vanderbilt ahead to stay, and the Commodores snapped a four-game skid by beating LSU 77-71.
"He wishes he had shots back against Kentucky our last home game, and he has been in the gym," Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said of LaChance. "He has been focused and mentally he's been in a really, really good place. And it was great to see him want the ball down the stretch and wanting to get to the free throw line."
The Commodores (7-12, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) watched a 16-point lead in the second half disappear as they played a second straight game without their second-leading scorer Matthew Fisher-Davis.
LSU took its only lead at 65-64 with 2:21 left on a bucket by Duop Reath. But LaChance hit his free throws as Vanderbilt finished the game 9 of 11 at the line. Freshman Saben Lee hit a jumper with 47.6 seconds left to pad the lead as he scored 10 of his 12 points in the final 6:48 to help Vandy pull out the win.
"If he can help us close out games like that, hopefully we can win a few more of these close ones," Drew said of Lee.
LaChance finished with 26 points. Jeff Roberson had 20 for Vanderbilt.
After missing the free throws against Kentucky, LaChance got some tips and worked in the gym. A career 84.2 percent shooter, he hit all six at the line against LSU.
"My teammates and coaches, they kept just preaching to me that they had confidence in me, so it was nice to make some plays at the end," LaChance said.
Reath finished with a career-high 31 points and had 13 rebounds for LSU (11-7, 2-4). Skylar Mays added 13. Tremont Waters, LSU's leading scorer averaging 16.3 points a game, was held to just seven with Lee guarding him.
"He took that challenge to heart and did a nice job on Tre and did a good job at keeping him out of the out of the paint best he could and keep him moving side to side instead of north-south," LSU coach Will Wade said.
LaChance capped a 12-2 run with his fourth 3-pointer, giving Vandy its biggest lead of the game at 46-30 with 16:54 left.
LSU whittled away at Vandy's lead and used an 8-0 run to pull within 56-54 on a bucket by Reath with 8:55 left to set up the thrilling finish.
The Tigers came in as the SEC's top-shooting team averaging 49.4 percent. But they couldn't have been much colder in the opening minutes as they missed seven of their first eight shots. They tied it up only once at 15, and the Commodores led 34-28 at halftime.
LSU: The Tigers now have lost two straight with this their first SEC road loss. ... The Tigers didn't move the ball around much with just seven assists on 27 made baskets. ... The Tigers outrebounded Vandy 38-33.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores improved to 2-11 against teams in the NCAA Top 100 RPI. They also beat LSU at Memorial Gym for the first time since Feb. 8, 2012. ... Even with Reath dominating inside, the Commodores were outscored only 34-30 in the paint.
Drew said the senior guard, who hurt his right shoulder in the loss to Kentucky, and his parents will be meeting with doctors to go over test results to decide what's next.
LSU: Hosts Texas A&M on Tuesday night.
Vanderbilt: Visits Tennessee on Tuesday night.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
Updated January 20, 2018