Men's College Basketball
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Vanderbilt (23-10) vs. (1) Kentucky (32-1)



Sunday, March 11, 1:00 p.m. (ET).

The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor

FACTS & STATS: Site: New Orleans Arena (18,500) -- New Orleans, Louisiana. Television: ABC. Home Record: Vandy 13-5, Kentucky 18-0. Away Record: Vandy 6-5, Kentucky 8-1. Neutral Record: Vandy 4-0, Kentucky 6-0. Conference Record: Vandy 10-6, Kentucky 16-0. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 136-44.

GAME NOTES: The top-ranked team in the nation is also one of the last teams standing before the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, as the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in the title game of the 53rd annual SEC Tournament at New Orleans Arena this afternoon.

Top-seeded Kentucky, which has won this event a staggering 27 times and is the two-time-defending champion, has an impressive record of 119-22 in this tournament. It is pretty much a lock that Kentucky would be one of the four number-one seeds in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, but winning the SEC title would be icing on the cake.

Kentucky, which lost only to Indiana by a single point in Bloomington (73-72) back on Dec. 10, owns the longest win streak in the nation at 24 games. On Saturday afternoon the team produced a 74-71 win over fourth-seeded Florida, improving to 37-2 all-time in SEC Tournament semifinal matchups.

Third-seeded Vanderbilt, which entered Saturday's action a mere 1-10 all-time in SEC Tournament semifinal matchups and was just 33-49 in the tourney all- time, took care of business against Ole Miss with a 65-53 victory yesterday. Losers of two of the final three regular season outings, the Commodores dropped a total of 10 games this season, three of them in overtime.

The one SEC Tournament title won by Vandy came more than 60 years ago and was levied against the Wildcats by a score of 61-57 in 1951. Kentucky has won the last two tournament titles and is seeking its sixth tourney crown since the turn of the century.

Kentucky won both of the regular-season meetings between these two teams. The first matchup took place at Vanderbilt where the Commodores came close but still suffered a 69-63 setback the second week of February. Two weeks later Kentucky delivered an 83-74 triumph at home, improving to 136-44 all-time against Vanderbilt.

After tying the score with Ole Miss at 32-32 on a free throw by John Jenkins at the 14:12 mark of the second half, the Commodores put together a 14-5 run in order to take the lead for good and eventually cruise to the double-digit victory yesterday. Vandy bounced back from shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor in the first half, including 3-of-17 behind the three-point line, to convert 50.0 percent from the field and 6-of-12 on the perimeter after the break. Jenkins led the way with 23 points as he knocked down 5-of-13 shots from long distance, followed by Brad Tinsley with 12 points as he converted three triples. Working the inside was Lance Goulbourne who logged a double- double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. A starter in all 32 games in which he has appeared this season, Jenkins is not only the top scorer for the team with 20.0 ppg, he is also the top producer in the SEC. What makes him such an incredible weapon is his three-point accuracy, making good on 126-of-278 (.453). Jeffrey Taylor, who checks in as the only other double-digit scorer with 16.3 ppg, is also a three-point sniper with his 61-of-142 effort. Vanderbilt has converted a collective 288 three-pointers this season.

The Gators started off with a three-pointer yesterday and continued to pile on with successful shots from the perimeter as well as conversions close to the basket, allowing Florida to take a double-digit lead late in the first half. However, the Wildcats came roaring back and took a one-point lead into the break. Trailing by four midway through the second period, Kentucky took control with a 13-0 run before having to hold on for the three-point victory. All five starters scored in double figures for the Wildcats, with Doron Lamb leading the way with 16 points. Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis all scored 15 points, the latter grabbing a team-best 12 rebounds and blocking a pair of shots, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist accounted for 10 points and eight boards. Outscoring the opposition by more than 18 ppg this season, the Wildcats have a total of six players scoring at least 9.4 ppg or more, the top man being Davis (14.3 ppg), who also leads the team with 10.0 rpg and has delivered a national-best 154 blocked shots, The 6-10 freshman phenom was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year and the overall SEC Player of the Year.

Even though it would be a great feel-good story to see a team like Vanderbilt bring down a basketball behemoth, the simple fact is the Commodores rely far too much on three-point shooting and with Davis on the inside for the Wildcats, the shooting by Vandy will to be nearly perfect from the perimeter to give the team a chance.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 69, Vanderbilt 61

03/11 10:31:07 ET

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