The SEC Tournament stayed chalky until Vanderbilt finished the night with an upset over Kentucky.
Three of the top four seeds in the SEC Tournament advanced to the semifinals, with Alabama, Texas A&M, and Missouri all taking care of business. Vanderbilt beat Kentucky for the second time this season to set up a matchup with Texas A&M.
Takeaway #1: Alabama is worthy of a #1 seed
Coming into their game against Alabama, Mississippi State was seen as a tournament team after beating Florida. But Alabama took the Bulldogs down for the third time this year, in a 72-49 dismantling. Not only was the Tide’s offense able to get by a stingy Bulldogs defense, but Mississippi State’s offense couldn’t get anything done against Alabama’s defense. Brandon Miller was outstanding as usual, but the whole team played well on Friday. With the way the Tide played, it’s hard to find four teams more deserving of a 1 seed.
Alabama takes on Missouri on Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
Takeaway #2: Missouri shows Gholston’s heave at Rocky Top was no fluke
Earlier this year, DeAndre Gholston hit an off-balance three to stun Tennessee at home. This time, there was no buzzer-beater needed. Missouri kept the game close for 40 minutes, holding the Vols to 71 points while scoring 79 on the vaunted Tennessee defense. Both teams shot 10-for-26 from deep, but Missouri was more efficient inside the arc, proving Dennis Gates’ squad can win games without their normal blueprint.
Missouri takes on Alabama on Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
Takeaway #3: Texas A&M shows resolve in comeback win over Arkansas
Rarely does a 2 v. 10 matchup in a conference tournament end up as a “pick ‘em” in Vegas at tip-off, but that was the situation between the Aggies and Razorbacks on Friday. Aggie bettors were likely sweating at halftime after an excellent first half from Arkansas. The Razorbacks were automatic from the field and constantly forcing turnovers on defense, with a Jordan Walsh buzzer-beater putting an exclamation mark on a 38-25 first half.
Texas A&M didn’t fold, however, as 16 second-half points from Wade Taylor IV and a 43-28 rebounding margin saved the day and negated a 10% shooting clip from behind the arc. The result was a 67-61 win for Buzz Williams’ squad.
Texas A&M takes on Vanderbilt on Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
Takeaway #4: Vanderbilt climbs the bubble with 2nd win over Kentucky
When Liam Robbins went down, many around the program thought the ‘Dores’ season was done. However, Vanderbilt has kicked it into 4th gear in their recent games. Friday, that meant an 80-73 win over Kentucky led by 25 points by Ezra Manjon and 18 from Tyrin Lawrence.
While Kentucky out-rebounded Vandy by a margin of 43-27, the Commodores shot 40% from three, a mark that’s hard to overcome. Maybe Vanderbilt needs another win Saturday against Texas A&M, but for now, they control their own destiny, and who’s going to count the ‘Dores out at this point?
Vanderbilt takes on Texas A&M on Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN.