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VU takes out No. 1 UK, claims SEC title

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Vanderbilt wins first SEC Tournament championship since 1951.

March 11, 2012

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NEW ORLEANS - Vanderbilt claimed its first postseason title since winning the 1990 NIT and first SEC Tournament championship since 1951 with a 71-64 victory over No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday.

Vanderbilt trailled by seven with 5:22 to play before going on a 14-1 run to open up a 69-63 lead with 23 seconds to play and the previous-once beaten Wildcats (32-2) could not recover.

It was Vanderbilt's eighth all-time win against No. 1-ranked teams and first since defeating Tennessee in 2008.

Jeffery Taylor led Vanderbilt (24-10) with 18 points. John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli each scored 17.

After starting slowly in each of its previous two SEC Tournament games, Vanderbilt made sure to avoid a slow start against the Wildcats and led by as many as eight points with just over five minutes to play in the first half. The two teams would enter the locker room deadlocked at 37.

Neither team gained much separation in the second half until the Wildcats were able to go up by six with 9:45 to play. However, a three-pointer by Brad Tinsley put Vanderbilt back within three, 57-54, with 8:46 remaining. Kentucky would go on another mini run to put the Wildcats up by seven, 62-55, with 5:22 to play.

But Vanderbilt would not go away, scoring six straight points to tie the game at 62 with 1:48 to play. After a missed Kentucky three-pointer, Kedren Johnson drove to the hoop and completed a three-point play after being fouled to give Vanderbilt a three-point lead with 1:29 to play. Kentucky would not lead again.

Vanderbilt was playing in its first SEC championship game since 1951 when the Commodores defeated the Wildcats. It was Vanderbilt's third postseason championship game appearance of all-time. The Commodores won the NIT in 1990 and finished runner-up in 1994.

John Jenkins was named SEC Tournament MVP for his three-game performance in New Orleans.

Vanderbilt will learn its seed in the NCAA Tournament during the Selection Show at 5 p.m. CT Sunday. The Commodores are set to make their third straight trips to the NCAA Tournament and fifth in the last six seasons.

Check back for a complete recap.

Photo credits: Getty Images

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