The LSU basketball team left nothing to chance Tuesday night.
Needing one win in their final two games to clinch a top-four seed and a double-bye in next week’s Southeastern Conference tournament, the Tigers made sure it didn’t come down to just one game.
LSU, which had back-to-back losses on the road to Georgia and Arkansas, jumped all over Vanderbilt from the opening tip and rolled to an 83-68 victory in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Playing in their final home game of the season, the Tigers didn’t take their foot off the gas until the closing minutes after the hot start.
LSU (15-8, 10-6 SEC) ran off to a 9-0 lead in the first 3½ minutes and was never seriously threatened in taking care of Vanderbilt (7-14, 3-12 SEC).
The Tigers led 46-24 at halftime and kept the pressure on for most of the second half against a Commodores team that played without its top two scorers — point guard Scott Pippen Jr. (bruised hip) and Dylan Disu (knee).
"I would say we just needed this win," forward Trendon Watford said. "Coming off of two straight losses, we just wanted to bounce back and come out strong."
That they did in getting out to the big lead early before cruising to the win.
LSU led by as many as 24 points at 60-36 with 12:39 to play before Vanderbilt refused to go quietly and chipped away at the deficit until the closing minutes.
With the victory, LSU, which closes out the regular season at Missouri on Saturday, locked up a double-bye in the SEC tournament for the third year in a row.
The Tigers will be either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed and won’t have to play until the third day of a tournament that begins March 10 in Nashville, Tennessee.
LSU also clinched its third consecutive 10-win season under Will Wade in SEC play, which hadn’t happened since Dale Brown’s Tigers did it five years in a row from 1988-92.
LSU had four players in double figures and three of them — Cam Thomas, Watford and Darius Days — also reached double digits in rebounds as the Tigers had a huge 51-29 advantage on the glass.
Thomas, who likely played his final game in the PMAC, led the way with 23 points and recorded his first double-double as a collegian with 10 rebounds.
Watford finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Days, who did not score in Saturday’s loss at Arkansas, made his first three 3-point shots of the evening and collected 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“When he made those 3s we could have all gone home and saved ourselves a lot of time," Wade said. "We don’t lose when he makes 3s.
“He was in the gym shooting Monday and I just sat and watched. After he was done, we just talked. I told him when you focus on playing with great energy and on rebounding, the 3s will come."
"I felt I had to play hard," said Days, who was 0 for 8 from long range at Arkansas. "This was a must-win. I didn’t have a great weekend. Coach said, ‘We love you taking those shots, but it should be second nature.’ ”
Javonte Smart added 12 points for the Tigers.
Maxwell Evans, who torched LSU for a career-high 31 points in a huge 99-90 upset of LSU last season in Nashville, led Vanderbilt with 20 points.
The only other Commodore in double digits was Baton Rouge native Jordan Wright, a former Dunham star. He made 3 of 5 shots from 3-point range and had 13 points and six rebounds against his hometown team.
“It’s good to get back on a winning track," Wade said. "We prepared well and played well in the first half. The second half we reverted to some old things to give up 44 points.
"Our communication wasn’t as sharp as we needed. But overall, we needed to find a way to win and we did that after last week.”