James Siakam wanted no part of a loss on Senior Night. The veteran forward's hustle was the eventual difference as Vanderbilt overcame an early 11-point deficit to beat Mississippi State 66-56.
Siakam had 12 points and seven rebounds in his final game at Memorial Gym - pending a NIT bid. Riley LaChance added 15 points in the Commodore win.
Vandy fell behind early thanks to Mississippi State's hot shooting from behind the arc. The Bulldogs missed their first three-pointer, then made six in a row to open up an early 28-17 lead over the home team. However, they weren't nearly as successful in the paint thanks to a solid Commodore defense that ground that lead down into dust in the second half.
A quick 10-0 run gave Vanderbilt the lead for good at the first media timeout of the second half but MSU refused to go away quietly. State pulled to within two points on two separate occasions but could never overcome the Commodores' hustle on both ends of the floor. Siakam was the engine behind those plays. The senior was all over the court, diving on loose balls and extending possessions for the Commodores in front of an appreciative home crowd. Though Vandy made just two of their final six free throws, their defense was able to seal up an emotional victory at Memorial Gym.
Vanderbilt improved to 18-12 and 8-9 in the SEC with the win. The Bulldogs fell to 12-18 and 5-12 in league play. The Commodores will polish off their regular season on Saturday when they travel to face Ole Miss.