Vanderbilt shocked the college basketball world as the ‘Dores downed the No. 18 LSU Tigers on Wednesday night by a score of 99-90 for their first conference victory since March 3, 2018.

With the news of Vanderbilt’s athletic director, Malcolm Turner, resigning on Monday, Vandy fans far and wide all shared a deep sense of disappointment. It is a feeling that Commodore fans have become all too familiar with in recent years.

Ironically it was one of the most disappointing programs in college basketball that would distract the suffering fan base, if only for one night.

And it was quite the distraction they gave.The atmosphere inside Memorial Gym after the
momentous win was something more akin to a SEC Championship or NCAA tourney berth.

This was not a situation where a banged up team limped into Nashville as a much needed confidence boost for a desperate program. No. This LSU team had won 10 games in a row and were beginning to feel like a team that could make a deep run in March.

Vanderbilt, on the other hand, entered the contest having lost nine games in a row. They had not won an SEC game in their previous 26 tries, a conference record. For some it was difficult to see how these two teams belonged on the same floor together.

Vanderbilt did not get that memo.

Message received

After Saturday’s close loss to Florida, Vandy coach Jerry Stackhouse was critical of his team’s effort to begin the game. His message was clearly received by the team as Vanderbilt was either tied, or in the lead for the final 16 minutes of the opening half and were able to take a 52-47 lead into halftime.

Junior guard Max Evans was the catalyst for the Commodores as he exploded for a career-high 25 points, knocking down 5-of-7 from three in the first 20 minutes.

“Coach Stackhouse never gave up on us,” said Evans. “Every day in practice we go hard. It has to translate into the game sometime. It translated tonight and I’m just proud of everyone.”

Saben Lee chipped in 16 points of his own, which was just a foreshadowing of the record night he would have.

Right where they left off

Vanderbilt did not come out of the half admiring their fine work in the first half displayed on the video board above. Instead, the Commodores dug their feet in and continued to push.

Evans opened the second half by nailing two big shots from beyond the arc to keep the crowd going. But it was Lee who brought Memorial Gym to its feet. The junior got loose on the baseline with a backdoor cut before throwing down a posterizing dunk on LSU’s Skylar Mays.

A moment Mays will surely relive in his nightmares.

They never said it would be easy

LSU would not go quietly. The Tigers would reclaim the lead due, in part, to a 7-0 scoring run with 5:53 left on the clock. It was their first lead since the score was 8-7. It was beginning to feel like every close game in the last two seasons where the ‘Dores would give it all they had, but ran out of gas late.

This time was different.

Vanderbilt countered with an 11-4 run on the back of Lee to put them up 93-87 with 1:37 remaining. The Commodores needed to find a big shot.

Stackhouse would look no further than his first recruit, Scottie Pippen Jr. who delivered the dagger with a three to give Vandy a 96-87 advantage with one minute to play, sending Memorial Gym into complete mayhem. Vanderbilt would close the game on a 19-7 run to win by a margin of 99-90.

“This was a hell of a night for us. A lot has happened over the last 48 hours, but nothing more important than what’s happened in the last two,” said a soaking wet Jerry Stackhouse after what had to be one of the biggest locker room celebrations Memorial Gym has seen in quite some time.

“These guys have worked their butts off and they deserved what just happened to them – a big time win against a great team.”

Lee (33) and Evans (31), both finished with career highs in scoring. Evans connected on a career high 7-of-12 from the three-point line. Pippen Jr. collected 13 points on the evening, nine of which came in the final 5:17 of the game. Jordan Wright, a Baton Rouge native, finished with 11 points, but his impact was felt all night on the defensive end where he also swiped two steals.

Next up

Even though it may feel like a mini championship, Vanderbilt’s season marches on. Next up, Vandy travels down to Starkville, Mississippi, where the Mississippi State Bulldogs will be looking to knock the Commodores back down a peg, or too.

Something to keep in mind – Vanderbilt has not won two straight SEC regular season contests in a row since February 14, 2018.

Stackhouse acknowledges the struggles Vanderbilt fans have gone through, but he does see a light at the end of the tunnel, “We know that Commodore nation is behind us, we’ve obviously had some tough stretches, but like I’ve said before, better days are ahead.”

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