BLOG — Ole Miss survived its first test of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament and is now looking to advance to its first SEC title game under coach Andy Kennedy.In order for the Rebels (24-8 overall) to do that, they must defeat the Vanderbilt Commodores (16-16) in the second semifinal game. No. 3 seed Ole Miss, which defeated Missouri 64-62 in dramatic fashion Friday night, is 1-0 against the Commodores on the year.
Marshall Henderson was the hero for the Rebels in their 89-79 overtime win over the ‘Dores on Jan. 15 in Memorial Gym. Henderson hit a long-distance 3-pointer as time expired in regulation to send the game to overtime. He finished with 26 points in that contest. Since suffering that loss to th Rebels, the Commodores, who started SEC play 0-3, have won 10 games against SEC foes, including defeating Kentucky 64-48 Friday night in the SEC semis.
Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings, who earned his 400th career win with the triumph over UK, led the Commodores to the SEC Tournament title last year. One of the ‘Dores wins in New Orleans in 2012 came against Ole Miss, 65-53.
Kennedy said it would be a challenge in playing the Commodores, who are able to extend opposing defenses with their versatile lineup and shot making.
“Vanderbilt is a good team. There is no coach in America I have more respect for than Kevin Stallings. He’s done a terrific job with his team. We played them I think the third game of the SEC season. They made 17 3′s, which was a Memorial Gymnasium record. We were able to survive it,” Kennedy said. “Marshall hits that 30-footer, we get to overtime, they gave us fits in the ball screen. They space you. We’ve had trouble all year with face (power forwards). Rod Odom played his tail off tonight. They’re a good basketball team.
“(Friday night’s) win over Kentucky did not surprise me. We’re going to have to play equally as hard. I hope we got the one bad game out of us as it related to missing some shots that we typically make. I hope we can be a little more efficient offensively. It’s going to take an equal effort for us to have an opportunity to play again on Sunday.”
Ole Miss is making its 11th trip to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. The Rebels are 4-6 overall in the games. Ole Miss has never advanced past this game under Kennedy. Ole Miss is also 3-5 in tournament games played in Nashville, Tenn. Ole Miss advanced to the 2001 SEC title game that was held in Nashville. … Today’s game can be seen on ABC with Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes calling the action. … The winner of today’s game will play No. 1 seed Florida at noon for the title. Florida defeated Alabama 61-51 in the first semifinal of the day. (March 16, 2013)