Vanderbilt loses heartbreaker to UT in SEC Tournament


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Reese’s two free throws with 13.3 seconds left proved the difference, and the Tennessee Volunteers held on to upset No. 5 seed Vanderbilt 67-65 Thursday afternoon at the Southeastern Conference tournament.

The Commodores appeared to have tied it at the buzzer when Wade Baldwin IV drove for a layup. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes immediately protested to officials, and they ruled the shot was late after reviewing a replay showing the ball still in Baldwin’s left hand when the red light went on.

Vols senior Armani Moore dropped to his knees with his face in his hands after hearing the officials’ decision.

The 12th-seeded Vols (15-18) were playing without their leading scorer but were coming off the biggest SEC tournament win in the program’s history over Auburn on Wednesday night.

They avoided being swept by their in-state rival and may have seriously hurt their in-state rivals’ NCAA Tournament hopes. Tennessee, which lost four straight to end the regular season, now will play No. 4 seed LSU in the quarterfinals Friday after its second straight win.

Vanderbilt (19-13) now has lost two straight and falls to 1-8 against Tennessee in this tournament.

Detrick Mostella led the Vols with 18 points, Moore added 14, Admiral Schofield 12 and Robert Hubbs III 10.

Baldwin finished with 13 points, Matthew Fisher-Davis and Damian Jones each had 12 and Joe Toye 10. Vanderbilt hit 8 of 12 from 3 in the second half and shot 60 percent (15 of 25) in the final 20 minutes.

It just wasn’t enough to erase the Commodores’ poor shooting and sloppy play in the first half. Tennessee led by as much as 15 in the first half and 34-22 at halftime.

The Commodores finally got going and took their first lead since 2-0 on a 3-pointer by Toye with 4:19 left at 57-56, setting up the frantic finish. But Jones’ dunk with 2:43 gave them their last lead at 59-58.

Fisher-Davis knocked down his fourth 3 with 8.6 seconds left to pull Vandy within 67-65. Mostella missed a free throw and got the rebound. He missed his next free throw with 4.5 seconds left, Luke Kornet got the rebound and passed to Baldwin who drove to the basket for his layup that wouldn’t count.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores were 1 of 13 outside the arc in the first half. .. This marked the Commodores’ biggest halftime deficit in SEC play. They trailed by 10 in a loss at Kentucky on Jan. 23.

Tennessee: The Vols had six steals — all in the first half — and outscored Vandy 17-5 for the game off turnovers. … Reese also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Vanderbilt: Hoping for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth. Tennessee: LSU on Friday.