NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Missing two players and playing for the first time since beating its instate rival, No. 22 Vanderbilt was in position for a letdown.
Lance Goulbourne wouldn’t let that happen.
The reserve forward scored a career-high 18 points—11 in the second half— to lead the Commodores to a 77-69 victory over LSU on Saturday.
Vanderbilt (19-5, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) was without starting forward Andre Walker (shoulder) and reserve guard John Jenkins, who missed his second straight game due to the stomach flu.
Goulbourne, who averages just 3 minutes a game, shouldered most of the load Saturday, playing 26 minutes. He was big on the glass with nine rebounds and clutch at the free throw line, where he was 7 of 9.
“When someone goes down, someone has to step up,” Goulbourne said. “Whatever I need to do to help my team win, I’ll do it. I don’t get nervous in pressure situations.”
The sellout crowd at Memorial Gymnasium was a little nervous for most of the game.
LSU (9-16, 0-11), which has lost 13 straight regular-season conference games dating to last season, erased an eight-point deficit in the second half. The Tigers tied it at 59-59 with more than 4 minutes left on a dunk by Garrett Green.
Vanderbilt’s A.J. Ogilvy responded on the other end with a basket and drew a foul. He missed the free throw but Goulbourne was there for the putback that gave the Commodores a 63-59 lead.
After LSU’s Tasmin Mitchell scored inside, Ogilvy hit two more free throws and Jermaine Beal tacked on a three-point play for a 68-61 lead with 2:06 left.
Beal scored 17 points, Jeffery Taylor added 15 and Ogilvy had 12 for Vanderbilt.
Mitchell scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half, Bo Spencer added 18, Storm Warren had 12 and Dennis Harris scored 10 for LSU, which hasn’t won a league game in the regular season since Feb. 28, 2009, at Kentucky.
“We had guys who were a little more uptight than they should be or normally are,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “It was an interesting sort of reverse pressure. Nobody is going to be surprised if (LSU) jumps up and beats somebody, but you don’t want to be that team.”
The Tigers used a zone defense that seemed to work. In the first half, the Commodores shot a season-low 29.6 percent, including 3 of 12 from beyond the 3-point arc. Taylor, coming off of a 26-point performance against No. 12 Tennessee on Tuesday, led Vanderbilt with eight points in the first half but was just 1 of 6 from the field.
“I’m not sure what it was that threw them off-guard,” Warren said of Vanderbilt. “We just stayed poised and came out fighting.”
LSU took advantage of the Commodores’ shooting woes. Spencer and Warren combined for 21 points in the first half and the Tigers led by as many as six points.
Vanderbilt crept back in thanks in large part to 9-of-13 shooting from the free throw line. The Commodores tied it at 24-24 with more than 3 minutes left before Spencer scored LSU’s last five points as the Tigers took a 29-28 halftime lead.
In the second half, however, Vanderbilt proved to be too much for the Tigers.
LSU’s big men—Green, Harris and Warren—all fouled out. The Commodores got to the free throw line 43 times for the second straight game, making 31. The Tigers, on the other hand, were 14 of 16 from the line.
“They had a good presence inside,” Spencer said. “Everybody was big and physical. They kept attacking the paint.”
Vanderbilt went ahead for good on a rare 3-pointer by Steve Tchiengang. It was just the third 3-pointer of the season for the 6-foot-9 forward and it gave the Commodores a 34-33 lead with more than 18 minutes remaining.
It was the start of a 10-0 run for Vanderbilt. Taylor’s layup with 14:44 to go gave the Commodores’ their biggest lead—41-33—to that point.
But the Tigers scored the next seven points to pull within one.
“I have good kids and that’s the tough part about it,” LSU coach Trent Johnson said. “They have been down 11 times (in the conference this season) but they find a way to pick themselves back up and I think that speaks volumes to their character.”