NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt started extremely cold offensively Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena – and the Commodores could never quite get back on track in a 86-73 loss to Arkansas in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
Vandy ends its season at at 11-21 and hasn’t won a postseason game since 2017.
Arkansas (20-12) advances to face Georgia on Thursday in the second round.
Saben Lee led Vanderbilt with 30 points and moved into 23rd in Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list. The junior guard also had five rebounds and went 7-for-7 from the line.
Freshman guard Scotty Pippen Jr. finished with 16 points and six rebounds while freshman forward Dylan Disu scored 13 points and collected 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Jordan Wright scored 10 for Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt started the game 4 of 23 from the field in the first half. It shot a much-better 17 of 35 in the second half – but it was much too little, too late.
The Commodores missed five of their first six shots from the floor at the outset and got in a 10-3 hole – seven of Arkansas’ first 10 points came courtesy of SEC Player of the Year candidate Mason Jones. The Dores went nearly five minutes between made field goals before a Lee layup cut Vandy’s deficit to 11-6.
Desi Sills gave the Razorbacks a 16-7 lead with 10 1/2 minutes to go in the half, then Sills’ putback on the fastbreak made it 18-7. Arkansas stretched the margin to 25-9 while Vandy went more than nine minutes without a field goal.
The Commodores began to settle down and to find the bottom of the basket. Disu rattled in a 3 from the right wing with 2:10 left in the half cutting the score to 32-21 and Lee scored four straight before the break making it 38-26.
That’s where the score stood after a forgettable 20 minutes for a Vanderbilt team that made just six field goals and went 6 of 25 from the floor. Arkansas scored 13 points off nine Vandy turnovers.
The Razorbacks came out strong to begin the second half and took a 47-30 lead on Jimmy Whitt’s layup. Sills’ third triple of the night moments later upped the advantage to 50-30 with 14:52 to go.
Vandy tried to keep itself in it and was within 12 on a Lee 3 and then 11 at 59-48 on Lee’s three-point play. But the Commodores just couldn’t get any closer.
Jones led Arkansas with 22 while Sills and Isaiah Joe each finished with 18.
• Lee (1,338) passed Barry Booker (1,310), Damian Jones (1,313), Frank Seckar (1,317) and Terry Compton (1,326) to move into 23rd on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list Wednesday. Butch Feher is 22nd with 1,345 career points.
• Lee’s 594 points were the fourth-most in a single season by a junior in Vanderbilt history.
• Lee’s 594 points were the 10th-most in a single season by any Commodore in program history.
• Vanderbilt finished the season 2-13 when trailing at halftime, 1-18 when trailing at the 5-minute mark, 0-19 when trailing at the 2-minute mark, 0-16 when shooting less than 40 percent and 2-17 when the opponent finishes the game with a better shooting percentage.
• The Commodores now trail the series with Arkansas 28-12 and 5-1 in SEC Tournament matchups.
• Vandy’s lone win against the Razorbacks in the postseason came March 14, 2013 at Bridgestone Arena.
• Vanderbilt is now 39-57 in SEC Tournament games.