ATLANTA -- Jeffery Taylor scored 21 points and Vanderbilt held on for an ugly 62-50 win over LSU Thursday night in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament, even without the league's top scorer.
Guard John Jenkins, averaging more than 19 points a game, sat out after tweaking his left foot in the regular-season finale against Florida last weekend. He went through warmups, and school officials said he was available if needed.He wasn't needed, though.After a sluggish start, the Commodores (22-9) pulled away to lead by as many as 14 in the first half. They stretched the margin to 20 points against last-place LSU (11-21), which closed out its second straight 20-loss season after winning the SEC title in 2009.Andre Stringer led the Tigers with 13 points.Chris Bass hit a jumper with 4:04 remaining, cutting Vanderbilt's lead to 58-50. The Tigers didn't score again, an appropriate ending to a dismal season. LSU failed to score on seven straight possessions, failing to slice into the deficit while the Commodores also were limping to the finish.Finally, Andre Walker knocked down a pair of free throws with 50.9 seconds remaining to seal the victory. The Commodores won even though their last field goal came with 5:35 left.Vanderbilt, which most believe has already locked up an NCAA bid, advanced to face Mississippi State in the quarterfinals Friday night.Without Jenkins providing a threat on the outside, the Commodores made only 3 of 22 from beyond the 3-point arc. Overall, they shot just 36 percent (20 of 55).But LSU, with three freshman starters and little depth or size, couldn't take advantage. The Tigers made only 18 of 59 (31 percent) and were outrebounded 48-32.Festus Ezeli and Brad Tinsley added 10 points apiece for Vanderbilt, while Lance Goulbourne pulled down 13 rebounds. For LSU, Storm Warren had 12 points and Eddie Ludwig chipped in with 10.