The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball hits the road to battle LSU

The Commodores will travel to Baton Rouge, La., to face off against the Tigers in their second SEC game of the season.
Vince Lin
Ven-Allen Lubin goes for a layup, as photographed on Dec. 2, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Vince Lin)

After a 78-75 loss to Alabama at home, Vanderbilt will travel to Baton Rouge, La., to face LSU in its second SEC game of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 9. After a disappointing nonconference portion of the schedule, Vanderbilt showed signs of improvement against Alabama in its SEC opener, competing with the second best scoring offense in college basketball. 

Still, Vanderbilt has yet to beat a formidable opponent and is ranked No. 184 in KenPom and No. 245 in the NET. The Commodores have gone 0-6 against quad 1 and quad 2 opponents, gaining little momentum this season. However, Vanderbilt’s matchup with LSU could be an opportunity to get its first quality win. 

The Tigers are a far more beatable team than the Crimson Tide. They are ranked No. 97 in the NET and No. 83 on KenPom. However, LSU is coming off a win in its SEC opener against Texas A&M, a team that was thought to be an NCAA Tournament contender coming into this season. 

The Commodores will be seeing a familiar face on Tuesday night in Jordan Wright. Wright, the former Commodore, transferred to LSU last march amidst a tumultuous offseason for head coach Jerry Stackhouse. Wright leads the Tigers with 15 points per game. LSU currently holds a 9-5 record, in large part due to Wright’s leadership. 

While facing a former Vanderbilt player could potentially inspire the Commodores to victory, it also means Stackhouse will understand Wright’s style of play. He is a bigger guard who is dangerous from both beyond the arc and in the paint. Wright is shooting 36% from deep this season and has the size to drive easily into the paint. He is averaging 5.1 rebounds per game, which is tied for the most on LSU’s roster. Vanderbilt will need to lock down Wright and force him to take contested shots from mid-range and deep. The matchup of Vanderbilt guard Tyrin Lawrence and Wright will be an entertaining one to watch.

LSU’s point guard, Jalen Cook, will be another name to watch out for on Tuesday. The shifty 6’0” guard has a similar playing style to that of Vanderbilt guard Ezra Manjon as he can weave around defenders and get easy buckets around the rim. Cook is averaging 14 points per game and is effective as a facilitator. Manjon will need to keep up with Cook’s fast style of play and contain him in transition. With Vanderbilt’s inexperienced frontcourt, Cook could wreak havoc in the paint if he isn’t guarded closely on the perimeter.

In the paint, the Tigers have two productive centers who have split time this season. Will Baker, a 7’0” forward, is averaging 12.1 points per game and Jalen Reed, a 6’10” forward, is averaging 9.2 points per game. Both will have a size advantage over Ven-Allen Lubin and Carter Lang, Vanderbilt’s two primary options at the five spot this season.

Offensively, Vanderbilt must get production from Lawrence. He is the spark that this Commodore offense needs to play its best basketball. While he scored 20 points against Alabama, he went 7-of-19 from the field and 2-of-6 from beyond the arc. It’s good to get Lawrence consistent opportunities to shoot, but it’s crucial for him to spread the ball to other weapons when he doesn’t have open looks. 

Additionally, Jason Rivera-Torres was highly efficient against Alabama, shooting 8-of-13 from the field and scoring a season-high 20 points. The freshman has proven to be a key contributor this season. If Rivera-Torres can get hot from mid-range and get more open shots, he could be a matchup nightmare for LSU’s guards.

Vanderbilt hopes Manjon will be available against LSU as he was injured with eight minutes left in the second half against Alabama. He is the spark-plug to a Vanderbilt offense that would struggle without him handling the ball. When Manjon was sidelined during the Vegas Showdown, the Commodores were outscored by a combined total of 21 points to NC State and Arizona. If Manjon does not suit up, Jordan Williams and Paul Lewis will need to step up at point guard and operate Vanderbilt’s offense.

Vanderbilt seems to be trending in the right direction, and a win against LSU would gain momentum for the rest of the season. This is a game the Commodores could win if they play to their strengths and contain Wright and Cook.

Vanderbilt tips off against LSU at 8 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Jan. 9. 

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About the Contributors
Henry Oelhafen
Henry Oelhafen, Deputy Sports Editor
Henry Oelhafen (‘26) is a student in Peabody College majoring in human and organizational development and minoring in business. Henry grew up as a Vanderbilt sports fan and loves to talk about both professional and amateur golf. In addition to writing, he loves to play golf with friends, hike and try new restaurants. He can be reached at [email protected].
Vince Lin
Vince Lin, Deputy Videography Editor
Vince Lin (‘27) is from Zanesville, Ohio, and is majoring in computer science. Vince also serves as a graphics and photography staffer. Outside of school, you can find him at the gym, rowing, lifting weights, playing games with friends or sleeping. You can reach him at [email protected].
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