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Vanderbilt Wins SEC Tournament Championship


New Orleans, La. -- Jeffery Taylor scored 18 points and Vanderbilt rallied to beat No. 1 Kentucky 71-64 in the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game Sunday, ending the Wildcats' 24-game winning streak.

John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli both had 17 points for Vanderbilt (24-10), which was playing in its first SEC tournament final since 1951, the year of its only other championship. The Commodores pushed ahead in the final minutes with a few timely shots, but mostly with suffocating defense.

Kentucky (32-2) didn't score a field goal over the final 8:04 and shot just 35.9 percent from the field (23 of 64).

Darius Miller scored 16 points in a surprise start for Kentucky while Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis both added 12.

Kentucky coach John Calipari has repeatedly told anyone who will listen that he doesn't care about conference tournaments, viewing them as a nuisance before the NCAA tournament.

But Vanderbilt obviously didn't feel the same way, with a wild scene afterward that saw Jenkins laying on the court with his hands over his face while teammates celebrated around him.

Vanderbilt had already played Kentucky close twice this season, and the Commodores were up to the challenge once again. Taylor scored 13 first-half points and Jenkins hit three 3-pointers as the Commodores pushed out to a 26-18 but had to settle for a 37-37 tie at halftime.

As is their custom, Kentucky's fans completely took over the SEC tournament and turned New Orleans Arena into a home venue, roaring when Miller was announced as a surprise starter. But even with that emotional lift, Vanderbilt had more energy in the first half and the Wildcats were constantly battling from behind.

Miller's eight first-half points and a couple of timely 3-pointers by Kyle Wiltjer helped Kentucky keep things from getting out of hand.

There wasn't much separation in the second half until about halfway through, when Jones had two powerful dunks to put Kentucky up 54-49 and get the crowd into it.

It looked like Kentucky might pull away, but then the entire team's shooting touch suddenly went frigid. After a dunk by Miller with 8:04 left, the Wildcats missed 14 consecutive shots from the field to lose for the first time since Dec. 10.

It also spoiled the Wildcats' perfect season against SEC competition. Kentucky is 18-1 against SEC opponents.

Vanderbilt has won four of five games heading into the NCAA tournament.


John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

Erik Murphy, Florida
Bradley Beal, Florida
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt

Championship Game Notes – Vanderbilt 71, Kentucky 64
Vanderbilt’s second SEC Tournament Championship (1951, 2012)

Series Notes:
    All-Time Series:  Kentucky leads the series 136-45
    Earlier this Season: Kentucky won both meetings, 69-63 in Nashville and 83-74 in Lexington
    In SEC Tournament Games: tied 4-4

Tournament Notes:
•    Most Valuable Player was John Jenkins of Vanderbilt.  In the three games, Jenkins averaged 18.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and one assist per game.
•    All-Tournament team included Erik Murphy, Florida; Bradley Beal, Florida; Terrence Jones, Kentucky;  Anthony Davis, Kentucky; Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt.
•    Tournament attendance: 154,526 in six sessions, an average of 14,378 per session. 
o    The 2012 SEC Tournament was sold out before the tournament began. 

Game Notes:
•    Trailing 16-13, Vanderbilt made a 13-2 run to take a 26-18 lead, the Commodores’ largest advantage of the half.
o     Kentucky responded with a 17-4 run to retake the lead at 35-30.
o    VU bounced back with a 7-2 spurt and the teams went to halftime tied at 37.
•    Kentucky led 59-54 when Darius Miller dunked with 8:04 to play.  Vanderbilt held UK without a field goal the remainder of the game and outscored UK 17-5 the rest of the way to get the win.

Vanderbilt Notes:
•    Vanderbilt is 24-10 and has won three in a row.   VU is 5-0 this season in neutral-site games.
•    VU held UK to 35.9 percent from the field, the Wildcats’ lowest percentage this season against an SEC opponent.
•    VU outscored Kentucky 21-12 at the foul line.
•    Jeffery Taylor led all scorers with 18 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double of the season.
•    VU also got 17 points from John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli.   

Kentucky  Notes:
•    Kentucky is 32-2 and had its 24-game win streak ended.
•    Anthony Davis totaled 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, his 16th double-double of the season.
•    Terrence Jones had 12 points and 11 boards, his third double-double of the season, second in the SEC Tournament.
•    Moving into the starting lineup, Darius Miller led UK with 16 points, adding three rebounds, four assists and two steals.



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