Vanderbilt looks to add a third upset to its SEC tournament experience when it faces No. 3 seed Mississippi in the semifinals Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. The Commodores, the No. 10 seed, have already taken down No. 7 Arkansas and No. 2 Kentucky in their first two games as they try to repeat as conference tournament champions.
The Rebels almost didn't make it to the semifinals, needing a second-half rally to down Missouri in the quarterfinals. The two teams had an overtime affair in the regular season in Nashville that Mississippi won in overtime. Marshall Henderson hit a 30-foot 3-pointer to send that game to overtime, and the league's leading scorer will be a big focus for both teams in this one as well.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT VANDERBILT (16-16 SEC): The Commodores have won five straight SEC tournament games, having gone 3-0 in the tournament last year for their second title. If Vanderbilt can play like it did against Kentucky in the quarterfinals - shooting 50 percent - it will be able to hang with the Rebels' high-powered offense. Kedren Johnson leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.5 points, with Rod Odom at (10.5). Johnson and Odom have each made 54 3-pointers and hoisted a combined 301 as the Commodores try to stretch the defense. Vanderbilt ranks third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 60 points and allowing opponents to shooting 40.6 percent. Since they've already overachieved, the Commodores can play loose, and that could help them to another upset win.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI (24-8): The Rebels showed how high-powered their offense can be when it gets going, especially Henderson, in the win over Missouri. Henderson scored 20 points in the second half as Ole Miss rallied, and he'll be a focus for the Commodores from the moment he steps on the court. But Mississippi has more than just the high-scoring Henderson (19.9 points), as shown by Derrick Millinghaus' game-tying and game-winning scores in the final minute against Missouri. Millinghaus is the team's seventh-leading scorer, showing the depth of the Rebels. Murphy Holloway (14.5 points, 9.7 rebounds) and Reginald Buckner (9.3, 7.5) will give Mississippi an advantage inside, especially on the boards.
1. The Commodores' victory over Kentucky gave coach Kevin Stallings his 400th career victory.
2. Buckner needs three blocks to move into fifth on the all-time SEC list. The senior is the Ole Miss leader with 315 career blocks.
3. While Vanderbilt is the defending SEC tournament champion, Mississippi hasn't been to the championship game since 2001, when it lost to Kentucky.
PREDICTION: Mississippi 70, Vanderbilt 64