Vanderbilt has won 17 straight home games after this week’s dominating victory over a ranked rival, but that’s not the only streak the 22nd-ranked Commodores will be trying to extend Saturday.
Lowly LSU has dropped 10 in a row going into its visit to Nashville, where Vanderbilt hopes to avoid a letdown and keep the Tigers winless in SEC play.
The Commodores (18-5, 7-2 SEC) faced a much bigger challenge with Tuesday’s matchup against in-state rival and No. 12 Tennessee, but they cruised to a 90-71 win, taking over sole possession of second place in the SEC East behind third-ranked Kentucky.
“You always want to win rivalry games,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “It feels good that it puts us ahead of (Tennessee) in the league race temporarily. Hopefully, we can keep it going. You have to take care of your home court if you are going to have a successful season. Thus far, knock on wood, we have been able to do that.”
Vanderbilt improved to 12-0 this season at home, where it has not lost since then-No. 24 Florida won 94-69 there on Jan. 25, 2009.
Sophomore Jeffery Taylor had the biggest impact on the latest victory, scoring a career-high 26 points against the Vols while going 7-of-11 from the field and 12-of-12 from the free throw line.
Stallings called the Swedish-born sophomore “one of the only guys I’ve ever coached who is a better shooter than he thinks he is,” and the coach said had been encouraging Taylor to shoot more.
“I just came in the game with the mentality of just shoot it right away instead of catching the ball and looking at what the defense is doing,” Taylor said. “Everybody already knew they were going to back off me. So I just caught it and shot it, and it went in.”
The Commodores also got 20 points from senior guard Jermaine Beal and 11 from junior center A.J. Ogilvy, a player LSU certainly remembers from the teams’ last meeting.
Ogilvy had a career-high 33 points and 10 rebounds to lead Vanderbilt to a 75-67 road upset of then-No. 12 LSU on March 4 - the Commodores’ third straight win in the series.
That was one of three losses in conference play for the Tigers last season - their first under coach Trent Johnson - but LSU (9-15, 0-10) has fallen quickly after losing three starters, including SEC player of the year Marcus Thornton.
The Tigers’ 10-game losing streak is their longest since they dropped the final 12 games of the 1997-98 season, and many of the recent defeats have not been close. They lost 87-52 at Arkansas on Wednesday.
In six road games, the closest LSU has come to a victory was a 67-58 loss at South Carolina on Jan. 13, and the team has yet to face a ranked team on the road.
Senior Tasmin Mitchell had 15 points and 13 rebounds against the Razorbacks, but he’s often received little help from his teammates. Three LSU players average more than 4.0 points, and only Mitchell and sophomore Storm Warren grab more than 3.0 rebounds per game.