May 21, 2024

Vols stay poised, win thriller to advance in SEC Tournament

The Vols weren’t expected to make much noise in the SEC Tournament, but they keep winning anyway.

NASHVILLE,TN - MARCH 10, 2016 - Forward Armani Moore #4 of the Tennessee Volunteers celebrates during the SEC Basketball Tournament game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Tennessee Volunteers at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

NASHVILLE,TN - MARCH 10, 2016 - Forward Armani Moore #4 of the Tennessee Volunteers celebrates during the SEC Basketball Tournament game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Tennessee Volunteers at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

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What happens in the regular season doesn’t matter when March rolls around, and Tennessee proved that Thursday night.

The 12th-seeded Vols upset the fifth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores in dramatic fashion, 67-65, earning their first win against Vanderbilt this season. With the first round victory over Auburn and Thursday’s win over the Commodores, Tennessee snapped a four-game losing skid.

Tennessee came out with a similar intensity it had the previous night against Auburn. The Vols forced Vanderbilt, usually a good three-point shooting team, to miss its first nine attempts from deep.

Tennessee then went on a 15-2 run late in the first half, en route to securing a 34-22 halftime lead.

The Vols were stifling on defense, forcing 10 first-half turnovers — including five steals from Devon Baulkman. Tennessee continued to hold its own on the perimeter, only allowing one three pointer on 13 attempts.

Admiral Schofield and Armani Moore led Tennessee in the first half with eight points a piece, while Derek Reese chipped in five points and six rebounds.

Vanderbilt came out in the second half looking to trim the double-digit deficit and went on a quick 7-0 run. Tennessee responded with a 6-0 run of its own. The game continued back and forth until Joe Toye hit his third three pointer of the game to give Vanderbilt its first lead of the half with just under four minutes to play.

The Commodores made eight of their 12 three-point attempts in the second half.

Moore answered with a big shot of his own, hitting an open three pointer with a minute left in the game, giving Tennessee a four-point lead.

After Detrick Mostella missed two free throws, Vanderbilt got the ball back with under 10 seconds left to play. Wade Baldwin IV ran the distance of the court and laid it in off the glass at the buzzer, which appeared to send the game into overtime.

The officials went to the monitor and saw that the ball was still in Baldwin IV’s hand when time expired and the bucket was called off. That allowed Tennessee to advance at least once more in the SEC Tournament.

Mostella led all scorers with 18 points, while Moore added 14. Baldwin IV led Vanderbilt with 13 points and also recorded eight assists.

This is the first game in the SEC Tournament that could be considered an upset, but the Vols aren’t focused on who is favored to win games.

“Coach told us before the game that it’s going to come down to who wants it more,” said Moore. “We had to come out and compete. It didn’t matter what happened earlier in the season.”

Tennessee advances to the quarterfinals and will take on fourth-seeded LSU tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Feautured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Edited by Cody McClure

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Jordan Dajani is a junior journalism/electronic media major from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Follow him on twitter @JDnumba3.