Festus Ezeli shook off a knee injury to play against LSU. It turns out the team needed him.
Ezeli was the team's biggest weapon on offense, leading the team with 21 points to help get Vanderbilt back on track after an 0-2 week with a 76-61 win over Louisiana State Wednesday night.
The Commodores took off after a sloppy first half that saw the two teams tied at 27 apiece. Vanderbilt's ball movement was much crisper in the second frame, as Tinsley and Kedren Johnson did a solid job of feeding Ezeli in the post. The Tigers relied on fouls to slow the big man down, and while he shot just 5-10 from the line, it wasn't enough to keep Vandy from pulling away. Once Jeffery Taylor made back-to-back three-pointers to pull the 'Dores to an 11-point lead early in the second half, the Tigers failed to pull closer than four points down.
LSU failed to adjust to Vanderbilt's solid defense at halftime, continuing to settle for tough shots. The Tigers took an abundance of deep shots and struggled from the field. They shot just 36.9 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from behind the three-point line. After Vandy got gashed from long-range against Florida, Arkansas, and Mississippi State, this stat was an encouraging result for the 'Dores.
It was another big showing for Vandy's big three. Aside from Ezeli's 21, John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor added 20 and 19 points of their own, respectively. Brad Tinsley chipped in nine, while the rest of the team combined for just seven points. James Siakam capped off the scoring with a monster dunk from the baseline with under 30 seconds to play.
Vanderbilt got the momentum building win they needed heading into Saturday's College Gameday showdown with Kentucky. The Wildcats will hit Memorial Gym ranked #1 in the country, but Nashville has been a tough place for top-ranked teams in recent years. If the 'Dores can pull off the upset, they'll regain the momentum they lost with last week's 0-2 run.