Commodores eliminated from SEC Tournament

Damian Jones

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Josh Richardson scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half, and Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 67-61 Thursday night in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

These in-state rivals hadn’t played each other in the tournament since 1987 with Tennessee winning that game, and they split the first two games in league play winning on each other’s home court this season.

No. 10 seed Tennessee (16-15) kept its season alive by finishing the game on a 20-2 run started with 6:18 left after trailing 59-47. The Vols will play No. 21 Arkansas on Friday night in the quarterfinals.

Robert Hubbs matched his career-high with 16 points for Tennessee, and Devon Baulkman had 12.

Vanderbilt (19-13) snapped a five-game winning streak. The Commodores hit only one of their final 10 shots and turned it over five times down the stretch.

Damian Jones scored 20 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds for Vandy. Wade Baldwin IV scored 14 points, and Riley LaChance had 11.

At one point, Richardson had scored 13 of Tennessee’s first 15 points in the second half trying to keep the Vols close with a couple teammates on the bench in foul trouble.

Hubbs jumpstarted the comeback with a 3-pointer with 6:18 left. Kevin Punter followed with a 3, then Derek Reese added another 3. Hubbs’ next 3, with 2:13 left, put Tennessee ahead 64-61 — the Vols’ first lead since 18-16. They finished off the run at the line.

Vanderbilt came in shooting 50.8 percent from the floor in its winning streak. The Commodores got a layup from LaChance with 3:07 left, and that was their lone bucket after Jones’ jumper put them up 59-47 with 7:18 left.

Vanderbilt led 38-32 at halftime, and Baldwin scored the first six giving the Commodores their biggest lead at 44-32 on a layup a couple minutes into the second half. But Richardson, the senior guard, refused to let the Vols lose.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores came into the tournament 8-2 over their last 10 games, tying the best finish with Stallings. They also were 8-2 in 2007-08. … They had shot 50.9 percent beyond the arc in their last five wins, hitting 55 of 108.

Tennessee: Baulkman had his first game in double digits since the SEC opener at Mississippi State. … Moore came in averaging 10.8 points per game, but foul trouble left him scoreless for his second straight game where he scored two points or less. … Tennessee now is 7-1 on neutral courts against Vanderbilt. … The Vols scored 17 points off Vandy’s 12 turnovers.