Ex-GHS star finishes final home game at LSU in style

BATON ROUGE – As the final minute ticked off the clock in LSU’s 81-69 victory over Vanderbilt Saturday, Darrel Mitchell tossed the ball to Antonio Hudson who punted it into the student section.

"I was so pumped up I could have run around the building a bunch of times," said Hudson, who scored 25 points in his final game at LSU. "All the ups and downs, all the good and bad times I’ve been through, it’s all worth it now."

The victory gave the Tigers, who opened the season 6-5, a share of the Southeastern Conference Western Division championship.

"It feels good, especially to come from where we came from where everyone in the media was counting us out," Hudson said. "Just to come back and play to the potential that we’re capable of feels really good."

LSU (19-8, 12-4), winners of six straight and 13 of the last 16 games, split the title with No. 9 Alabama and earned the No. 2 seed in the West in the SEC tournament next week.

"The only negative thing out of this game is that we probably are going to have to play Vanderbilt again in the first game of the SEC tournament," LSU coach John Brady said. "I’m not very fond of playing teams back-to-back like that."

It was the Tigers’ first SEC regular-season championship since the 1999-2000 season. LSU went undefeated at home for the first time since 1981.

Vanderbilt (18-12, 8-8) won seven on their last 11 games hoping to parlay a late-season push into an NCAA Tournament berth.

"We came into this game saying win or lose something will become of us," said Vanderbilt forward Julian Terrell.

"The SEC tournament is always a must win. We’re going in there trying to win the whole thing."

Hudson made 5-of-7 3-point attempts and was 4-for-5 from the foul line.

Brandon Bass had his fourth straight double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Darrel Mitchell added 16 for LSU, and Glen Davis had 13.

Mario Moore led Vandy with 30 points, Terrell had 21 and Corey Smith made 11.

The Commodores, who lead the SEC in 3-pointers made per game (9.5), made only 8-of-24 against the Tigers. LSU, which ranks last in the SEC in 3-point defense, with foes hitting 38.7 percent held Vanderbilt to 33 percent.

The game was tied at 18 with 5:26 left in the first half. LSU outscored the Commodores 18-3 to lead 36-20 at the break.

Vanderbilt opened the second half with a 21-8 run to cut the Tigers lead to 44-41 on a steal and layup Dan Cage. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Moore pulled the Commodores to within one point, 48-47 with 12:41 left.

"We didn’t play good in the last six or seven minutes of the first half,"

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "We came back in the second half and played much more aggressively and with much more purpose, but it wasn’t enough."

The Tigers went on a 12-4 spree, fueled by five points from Hudson, to take a 10 point lead, 62-50, with 8:39 remaining.

Vanderbilt could come no closer than five points the rest of the game.