Ole Miss (20-12) vs. Vanderbilt (22-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 10, 3:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site:New Orleans Arena (18,500) -- New Orleans, Louisiana Television: ABC. Home Record: Ole Miss 12-2, Vandy 13-5. Away Record: Ole Miss 4-8, Vandy 6-5. Neutral Record: Ole Miss 4-2, Vandy 3-0. Conference Record: Ole Miss 8-8, Vandy 10-6. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 73-39.
GAME NOTES: The third-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores will try to return to the title game for the first time since 1951 as they square off with the seventh- seeded Ole Miss Rebels in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at New Orleans Arena.
The Rebels and Commodores played only once during the regular season. Vanderbilt coasted to a 102-76 victory as it shot 62.5 percent from the field, made 12-of-19 from three-point range, and converted 30-of-38 at the charity stripe in the contest to score a season-high point total. The 102 points allowed was also a season-high for Ole Miss.
The Rebels won their second game of the SEC Tournament on Friday as they upset the second-seeded Tennessee Volunteers, 77-72. Ole Miss is not sure whether it is going to receive an invite to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. Although only winning the SEC Tournament would guarantee a spot in the 68-team field, a victory over the Commodores is predicted to be enough to launch it back into the Big Dance. Coach Andy Kennedy had to be pleased with his team's discipline versus the Volunteers in the quarterfinals. The Rebels stuck to the game plan and continued to pound the ball inside. It turned out to be the difference as Ole Miss was able to make 42.2 percent of its field goals after only attempting four shots from distance. The Rebels held Tennessee under 30 percent shooting and watched them make only 11 of their 34-launched three- pointers.
Terrance Henry took control of the game versus Tennessee when it really mattered, as he scored seven of his team-high 19 points in overtime. In the same contest, Jarvis Summers finished with 17 points and Murphy Holloway added 14 points and nine boards. If the Rebels' terrific trio delivers a similar joint effort versus Vanderbilt, Ole Miss could be playing for its first SEC Tournament championship since 1981.
Vanderbilt was the only one of the top-four seeds in the tourney to win comfortably on Friday. The Commodores darted to a 63-41 victory over the 11th-seeded Georgia Bulldogs behind its best defensive performance of the season. The usually high-powered Commodores' offense was non-existent in the first half versus Georgia, while allowing the Bulldogs to take a 25-24 lead into the intermission. The Commodores connected on 51.6 percent of their field goal attempts and held Georgia to 22.2 percent shooting the rest of the way. Vandy will try to ride its stellar second half performance into the semifinals.
John Jenkins, who is the SEC's leading scorer, posted a game-high 15 points in Vandy's Friday victory. Jenkins is 13 makes from beyond the arc away from the most made three-pointers in a single season by any individual in the SEC. Jeffery Taylor, who is second on the team and in the SEC in scoring, will need to bounce back from his forgettable six-point finish in which he went 2-of-10 from the floor. Point guard Brad Tinsley, center Festus Ezeli, and forward Lance Goulbourne all played well on both ends of the floor versus Georgia.
If Taylor gets into the mix for the Commodores, they could surprise the winner of the Florida/Kentucky matchup in the championship game. Although Ole Miss has been playing well lately, it barely beat the Volunteers despite Tennessee's extremely inefficient offensive performance. Jenkins and Taylor seem to be getting support from the team's role players at the perfect time.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 73, Ole Miss 65
03/10 10:31:31 ET