Skylar McBee's shooting saved the Vols late, but a bad call helped Ole Miss put Tennessee away.
The game of the day on the second round of the SEC Tournament was Ole Miss-Tennessee. The two teams were playing for their NCAA Tournament lives, and it showed with a hard fought game that the Rebels won in overtime 77-72. It had a very controversial ending courtesy of, who else, the good ol' SEC refs.
Tennessee's Skylar McBee hit a buzzer-beating three to send the game into overtime, and it was two more threes from him that prevented Ole Miss from running away with the game. A McBee three and two free throws from Jarnell Stokes cut the lead from 74-67 to 74-72 with 14 seconds to go. On the ensuing inbound pass, UT's Josh Richardson deflected the ball off of the chin of Ole Miss's Terrance Henry and out of bounds. It should have been Tennessee basketball on its own end, down by two, with 13 seconds on the clock. Instead, the Rebels got another chance to inbound it, and they got it to Henry who iced the game by hitting three-of-four free throws the rest of the way.
It was a heartbreaking sequence, especially because it happened right in front of the Tennessee bench. That bad call could have cost the Vols a chance at a Big Dance ticket, but ultimately, their losses to Oakland, Austin Peay, and College of Charleston have far more to do with why they're NIT bound than that one bad call.
In the day's first game, LSU put up a heck of a fight before succumbing to the Big Blue powerhouse 60-51. The Bayou Bengals were down just a point at intermission, and they took a five-point lead early in the second half. After that though, Terrence Jones took over the game. Down 35-34, Jones scored five straight points and gathered two rebounds over about a three-minute span to reverse the momentum. From there, Anothony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist largely took care of things as the superior Wildcats wore down the overmatched Tigers.
In the second game, Billy Donovan held off his onetime assistant and successor Anthony Grant as the Gators outlasted Alabama 66-63. For a while, it looked like Florida was finally playing up to the level that earned the team top-ten rankings at points this season. UF was up by 12 with 13 minutes to go, but the Crimson Tide would not go away quietly. Bama went on a 16-4 run led first by Trevor Lacey and then by JaMychal Green over the next six minutes to tie it up, and the game was tight the rest of the way. Lacey missed a three at the buzzer that would have sent it to over time. The Gators now get to be the lucky first team to play Kentucky for the third time this year.
In the nightcap, Vanderbilt smothered Georgia in the second half to win in a 63-41 blowout. The Commodores were anything but sharp in the first half, as John Jenkins had a couple of uncharacteristic airballs, and the team ended up down by one at the half. They would come out on a 12-2 run to take firm control of the game though, and they held UGA to just 16 points after intermission. All of Vandy's starters except Jenkins made it into double digits, while Dustin Ware was the only Bulldog to make it there with 10 points.