Vanderbilt's journey to the SEC Tournament final was not the prettiest you can imagine, but they got the job done against Ole Miss to the tune of 65-53. It's the Commodores' first trip to the tournament final since it won the thing in 1951, and its second final appearance matches Georgia Tech and Tulane in the annals of SEC history.
The beginning of the game was particularly ugly. Vandy led 5-2 at the first TV timeout, but Ole Miss tied it up at five all for the under 12:00 TV timeout. It was a slow-paced slugfest, one that particularly favored the defensive-minded Rebels. The scoring began to pick up as the teams sped things up, and really, you can't expect two teams to shoot under 30% all game. The teams remained tight until about the second TV timeout of the second half, but at that point Vandy began to pull away. Once the Commodores pushed out to a seven-point lead at 44-37, the Rebels never got within less than five the rest of the way.
Fast-shooting John Jenkins was the star of the game, scoring 23 points, while Lance Goulbourne had a double-double for the Commodores with 10 and 12. The two Rebels to make it to double digits were Jarvis Summers with 15 and Ladarius White with 13. Vandy's Brad Tinsley had 12 points, while Ole Miss's Murphy Holloway had 10 boards.
Vanderbilt gets the privilege of being the second team to face Kentucky three times, though both of Vandy's losses to the Wildcats came by fewer than 10 points each. UK hasn't been its normal, blowout-generating self in New Orleans so far, so VU could very well find itself winning this thing tomorrow. To do so, it'll have to shoot a lot better than the 41.8% it threw up today.
For Ole Miss, it's probably a trip to the NIT coming next. While them eliminating Tennessee yesterday helped their cause, today's loss did not. The Rebels' best win is either over Mississippi State or Miami (FL), and that's just not going to get it done.