A check of LSU’s scouting report for Tuesday night’s game with Vanderbilt may have caused Tigers coach Will Wade to wince a little.
Under 3-point field-goal percentage, Wade saw that six players LSU will have to defend against shoot 36% from beyond the arc this season.
A seventh player who tops that number, 6-foot-9 forward Dylan Disu, won’t play after having season-ending knee surgery last week.
It was enough to bring back bad memories of LSU’s visit to Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium 13 months ago, when the Commodores buried a dozen 3-pointers and shot 57.4% from the field in a 99-90 bashing of the then-No. 18 Tigers.
LSU, which was 8-0 in Southeastern Conference play at the time, has much more at stake in its 7:30 p.m. Tuesday rematch with Vanderbilt in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
A win in its penultimate league game and home finale would clinch no worse that a fourth-place finish for LSU (14-8, 9-6 SEC) and the double-bye that goes with it for next week’s SEC tournament.
After dropping its past two games — both on the road — Wade’s team doesn't want to slip up against Vanderbilt (7-13, 3-11 SEC) two years in a row.
“This is a good team now, they’re a totally different team than they were last year,” Wade said. “This is a very good team. I know what their record says, but they are a good team.
“If you’re a coach and you can’t pop in the film and see how good they are and see what sort of progress they’ve made … I mean they’re a good team.”
So the Tigers will be on high alert even though they would have another opportunity to secure the win they need to clinch a double-bye in the regular-season finale at Missouri on Saturday.
Obviously, not taking it to the wire is preferrable — especially after Vanderbilt, a 12-point underdog last Feb. 5, stunned LSU to snap a 28-game SEC losing streak.
The first thing Wade talked about during his Zoom video conference Monday was Vanderbilt’s 75-70 win over Ole Miss on Saturday even though the Commodores played without their top two scorers — guard Scotty Pippen Jr. and Disu.
Pippen was sidelined for a second consecutive game with a bruised hip, but Wade said he expects Pippen to return Tuesday night.
The second thing Wade talked about was Vanderbilt’s 3-point shooting.
“It will be a major issue for us guarding the 3-point line,” he said. “Maxwell Evans is playing really well; he killed us last year.”
Evans, a 6-2 guard, scored a career-high 31 points in making 10 of 18 field-goal attempts — including 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. He had 25 points at halftime.
Guard Jordan Wright, a 6-6 forward who prepped at The Dunham School, leads Vandy in hitting 42.9% from long range. Evans is right behind at 40.5% and guard Trey Thomas hits 38.5%.
As a team, the Commodores shoot 35.7% for the season, which is second in the league. They also are second with 9.5 makes a game.
“We’ve got to be able to guard the bounce,” said Wade, whose team ranks second in the SEC in 3-point field-goal defense at 30.1%. “We’ve got to be able to guard their 3-point shooters well.”
Second-year Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse is hoping to get Pippen, his point guard and All-SEC candidate, back in the lineup.
Pippen is second in the SEC at 20.5 points a game, only behind LSU’s Cam Thomas’ 22.8, and is also second in assists at 5.2 per game.
Wade pointed out that Vanderbilt has been close to winning a number of times this season.
In addition to beating Ole Miss, the Commodores took league champion Alabama to the wire in Tuscaloosa before falling 82-78 on Feb. 20.
They also put up a fight without Pippen and Disu before losing to Tennessee by 12 last Wednesday.
“Coach Stackhouse has done a phenomenal job, and they’ve really improved this year like they did throughout the course of the year last year,” Wade said.
“It’s going to be an absolute battle. It’s be a very, very challenging game and a very difficult game.”