Friday , Mar , 10 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

LSU begins SEC Tournament play against Vanderbilt

(Sports Network) – The 18th-ranked LSU Tigers make their first appearance in
the SEC Tournament today, when they do battle with the Vanderbilt
Commodores in the quarterfinal round from the Gaylord Entertainment
Center in Nashville. Awaiting the winner of tonight’s game is a spot in
the semifinals against either Arkansas or Florida on Saturday. With a record
of 14-2, the Tigers won the SEC regular season championship for the first
time since 2000. The team’s 14 league wins is its most since posting 17 all
the way back in 1981. LSU, which earned the top seed out the West Division,
brings a 22-7 overall record into the postseason and a six-game winning
streak. The Tigers are just 40-45 all-time in the SEC Tournament, winning
their lone title in 1980.

As for Vanderbilt, it limped into the postseason as the fourth seed out of
the East Division by virtue of its 7-9 record in league play during the
regular season. Because of the poor finish, the Commodores were forced to
play and opening round game which resulted in a 76-71 win over Auburn on
Thursday. With the win, the team improved to 17-11 overall and 28-43 all-time
in this event. The Commodores also kept their hopes alive of winning their
first SEC Tournament championship since 1951. Vanderbilt leads the all-time
series with LSU, 52-47, although the Tigers won the lone regular season
meeting by a score of 77-66.

Vanderbilt shot a solid 51.0 percent from the floor, including an 11-of-22
effort from behind the arc, as it posted a five-point win over Auburn in the
opening round of the tourney on Thursday. The team also outscored Auburn at
the foul line, 15-10, and held a 34-28 edge on the boards in the victory.
Derrick Byars led the way with 21 points on the strength of 5-of-8 shooting
from long range. Shan Foster added 20 points and nine rebounds, while Julian
Terrell had 13 points and eight boards.

On the season, Foster is the club’s top scorer at 16.4 ppg, and he is also
hitting on 43.0 percent from three-point range. Byars follows Foster with
12.1 ppg and is also dishing out a team-high 3.3 apg, while DeMarre
Carroll adds 11.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg. Terrell has also gotten into the mix
and is putting forth 10.2 ppg and a team-high 7.5 rpg. Overall, the
Commodores have been nothing short of solid at the offensive end of the
court this season, averaging 70.0 ppg on 46.2 percent shooting from the

The Tigers have excelled in many areas this season, but their strength lies on
the boards, where they are outrebounding their opponents by a SEC-high 9.5
rpg. The team is also averaging a solid 74.5 ppg on 47.2 percent shooting from
the floor, while holding its opponent to just 63.8 ppg and only 40.0 percent
shooting from the field. Leading the way for LSU is Glen Davis, who was
recently named the 2006 SEC Player of the Year. Davis is nearly averaging a
double-double this season with 18.3 ppg and a league-best 9.9 rpg. Darrel
Mitchell has also had himself a solid campaign thus far and is averaging a
hardy 17.6 ppg on the strength of 41.9 percent shooting from long distance. He
is also handing out a team-best 4.5 apg and is even tops on the club with 59

Tyrus Thomas played a big role in the team’s success this season and recently
earned both the SEC Freshman of the Year award and Co-SEC Defensive Player of
the Year honors. Thomas, who is averaging 12.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg, made it three
straight SEC Freshman of the Year honors for the Tigers (Brandon Bass,
2004 and Glen Davis, 2005). Unfortunately for Thomas and the team, he is
expected to miss the entire SEC Tournament with a high ankle sprain.