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LSU forward Emmitt Williams (5) celebrates a win over Mississippi in an NCAA college basketball game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle via AP)

SEC-leading LSU visits SEC-worst Vandy

The Vanderbilt Commodores have yet to win an SEC game this year. They’ll try to change that against the LSU Tigers that currently lead the SEC with an undefeated conference record.

Contrasting Seasons

Even though both teams were a little weary opening the season, conference play has gone completely different ways for the two teams playing tonight.

For Vanderbilt, they were relying on forward Aaron Nesmith for their scoring. In fact, Nesmith was leading the SEC and fifth in the nation in scoring before a foot injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Prior to his injury, Nesmith averaged 23 points per game in just under 36 minutes per game.

Commodores head coach Jerry Stackhouse has not had anybody step up so far.

“We don’t anticipate him being a part of what we’re doing anymore this season,” Stackhouse said when asked about Nesmith’s contributions to the team after his injury.

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Dylan Disu has filled in the starting role in Nesmith’s absence, but Disu’s 6.5 PPG are not nearly as beneficial to the team as Nesmith’s 23

LSU guard Ja’vonte Smart (1) celebrates the dunk play made by LSU forward Emmitt Williams (5) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Alabama, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. LSU won 90-76. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

For the Louisiana State Tigers, their basketball season has turned around greatly. After early-season losses to VCU, USC and East Tennessee State, the Tigers have rattled off ten-consecutive victories. Eight of these have been in SEC play.

Balanced scoring across the board has propelled LSU to a conference record of 8-0.

With five players averaging double figures in points this season, it is hard to pick a true leader among the starting five that have all played in every game this season.

For many fans in Baton Rouge, the leader is shooting guard Skylar Mays. For the Tigers, Mays is leading the team both on and off the court.

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Mays is averaging a team-leading 15.3 PPG to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. The guard is averaging 85 percent from the line and 36 percent beyond the three-point line.

Keys to the Game

For Vanderbilt, the Commodores will have to force turnovers and prevent LSU from knocking down the three.

LSU has been held below 70 points four times this year, and they lost two of those. Even then, the two of those games that the Tigers won were by a combined three points. Keeping LSU’s score down should allow Jerry Stackhouse’s squad to keep pace with a team that has often pulled away from teams late in games.

LSU follows a similar script: don’t stop scoring.

The Tigers currently sit at second in the SEC in points per game with 79.8. However, nearly 70 points per game against the Tigers shows that perhaps defense might be their weakness. Early games against weaker teams bolster that points per game against.

The game will tip-off tonight at 9:00 ET on the SEC Network.

About Kyle Fansler

Originally from Seminole in the Tampa Bay area, Kyle is a contributor for ESPN Gainesville as well as local NPR and PBS affiliate WUFT. Kyle wants to get into sports with a lofty dream of being a sports broadcaster. He was raised playing soccer and baseball while watching hockey and football, so the knowledge about various sports is fairly extensive.

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