After a dramatic come-from-behind win at South Carolina, Vanderbilt enters the 2011 SEC Tournament (March 3-6) at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on a high note. The win coupled with a Georgia loss and Kentucky win vaulted Vanderbilt up the SEC standings from fifth to third.
As the No. 3 seed, Vanderbilt (19-10, 10-6 SEC) received a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament and will play 11th-seeded Mississippi State (13-16, 4-12 SEC) in the quarterfinals on Friday at 9 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs beat Auburn, 49-47, on Thursday night.
This is the seventh time Vanderbilt has been the No. 3 seed in the tournament and fourth time under Head Coach Melanie Balcomb. Vanderbilt has won six SEC Tournament titles and three of the titles have come as the No. 3 seed. Vanderbilt was last the No. 3 seed in 2008 when they lost in the semifinals.
In nine seasons at Vanderbilt, Balcomb's teams have received a bye five times, which includes four of the last five years. Overall, Balcomb is 17-5 (77.2%) overall in the SEC Tournament with three SEC Tournament crowns. Vanderbilt has won at least one game in the tournament each of the last 11 seasons. Vanderbilt has made it to at least the semifinals of the SEC Tournament each of the last four years.
Vanderbilt enters the SEC Tournament after rallying from 10 points down at South Carolina and outscoring the Gamecocks 36-12 over the final 6:08 of regulation and overtime. Vanderbilt outscored South Carolina 18-4 in overtime as the Commodores won their fourth straight on the road.
Vanderbilt is 2-0 this season against Mississippi State. The Commodores won by an average of 16.5 points in their two meetings with Mississippi State. Vanderbilt is 4-2 all-time in the SEC Tournament against Mississippi State (4-2). Vanderbilt leads the all-time series 31-14 over Mississippi State.
You have to go back to the 1997 SEC Tournament to find the last time the Commodores have faced the Bulldogs. Vanderbilt won the meeting 70-42 in the first round.
Friday's game will air on SportSouth with Dave Baker (play-by-play) and LaChina Robinson (analyst) on the call. Fans can listen to the game in Nashville on 560 AM with the voice of Vanderbilt women's basketball, Charlie Mattos, on the call. Fans may also listen online by subscribing to All-Access on VUCommodores.com. The game will be webcast on ESPN3.com.
Last Time Out With a top four seed in the SEC Tournament on the line, Vanderbilt staged its biggest comeback of the season by rallying from 10 points down over the final 6:08 of the game to defeat South Carolina 74-60 in overtime on Sunday at Colonial Life Arena.
The win coupled with a Georgia loss and Kentucky win meant the Commodores earned the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament. A loss would have meant Vanderbilt would have been the No. 5 seed in the tournament.
Vanderbilt (19-10, 10-6 SEC) began its final run following a personal foul and technical foul on South Carolina (16-13, 8-8 SEC) center Jewel May, which resulted in her fifth personal foul and sent Stephanie Holzer to the line where she made 3-of-4.
The momentum shift seemed to be halted when Tiffany Clarke was whistled for a personal foul and a technical with 5:25 to play, which also resulted in her disqualification.
However, Clarke's technical only added fuel to the fire as Vanderbilt scored 11 of the game's next 13 points to tie the score at 52 with 2:30 to play.
With the score tied for the fifth time in the half, senior Jence Rhoads stepped forward after being held scoreless in the first 19 minutes of the second half.
It was Rhoads, who tied the game at 56 with 43 seconds to play. Neither team scored again in regulation.
In overtime Rhoads scored seven points to lift the Commodores' to their second overtime win of the season, while the team made all five of its shot attempts in the overtime compared to USC making 1-of-11 attempts. About Mississippi State After starting SEC play 0-9, Mississippi State closed the regular season by winning four of its last seven games, including two in a row. Three of Mississippi State's four league wins came on the road.
Vanderbilt trailed most of the game in its previous meeting with the Bulldogs before going on a 17-0 run with 14 minutes to play to take command of the game en route to a 74-62 win in Starkville on Feb. 17.
The Bulldogs are coached by Sharon Fanning-Otis, who is in her 16th season at Mississippi State. Mississippi State finished 21-13 overall, 9-7 SEC and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year.
Mississippi State Series Despite winning both meetings with Mississippi State so far this season, the Commodores have still dropped three of five in the series.
Vanderbilt leads the all-time series 31-14 and Head Coach Melanie Balcomb is 7-4 all-time against the Bulldogs.
The Commodores are 4-2 all-time against the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament. You have to go back to the 1997 SEC Tournament to find the last time the Commodores have faced the Bulldogs. Vanderbilt won the meeting 70-42 in the first round. Vanderbilt's only losses in the SEC Tournament against Miss. State were in 1983 and 1981.
Home Away from Home Vanderbilt won't have to travel very far for the SEC Tournament, which is being played at Bridgestone Arena just five miles from campus as it returns to Nashville for the fourth time and first time since 2008.
Having the tournament in its back yard makes Vanderbilt's week different from the other 11 teams in the league. Vanderbilt is in its last week of classes before beginning spring break, which means students are in the middle of mid-terms.
Since the tournament is being played in town, Vanderbilt will continue to attend classes this week. However, the team will still stay in a hotel to maintain the feel of a road game.
In the three previous SEC Tournament played in Nashville, Vanderbilt has won two championships (2002 & 2004) and advanced to the semifinals in 2008. Vanderbilt is 8-1 all-time in SEC Tournament games played in Nashville.
Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament Vanderbilt has won six SEC Tournament titles, which is second only to Tennessee's 14. Vanderbilt is 42-25 (62.9%) all-time in the tournament, which is second best in the league. Vanderbilt's SEC titles came in 1993, 1995, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2009.
Since LSU's win in 2003, Vanderbilt and Tennessee have won the SEC Tournament every year with Vanderbilt winning three and Tennessee winning four.
Vanderbilt has won at least one game in the tournament each of the last 11 seasons. Vanderbilt has made it to at least the semifinals of the SEC Tournament each of the last four years.
Melanie Balcomb in the SEC Tournament In nine seasons at Vanderbilt, Balcomb's teams have received a bye five times, which includes four of the last five years. Overall, Balcomb is 17-5 (77.2%) in the SEC Tournament with three SEC Tournament crowns.
The SEC Tournament Bye Under Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, the Commodores have proven they can win the conference tournament with or without a first-round bye. Without a bye, Vanderbilt is 7-3 with the only tournament title coming in 2004. With a bye, the Commodores are 8-2 with tournament titles in 2007 and 2009. Vanderbilt has won at least one tournament game every year under Balcomb.
Vanderbilt as the No. 3 Seed This is the seventh time Vanderbilt has been the No. 3 seed in the tournament and fourth time under Head Coach Melanie Balcomb. Vanderbilt has won six SEC Tournament titles and three of the titles have come as the No. 3 seed. Vanderbilt was last the No. 3 seed in 2008 when they lost in the semifinals.
Vanderbilt in the SEC Quarterfinals Vanderbilt is 7-1 all-time in the SEC quarterfinals under Head Coach Melanie Balcomb. Vanderbilt's lone loss came in 2006 to Georgia. Prior to Balcomb's arrival, Vanderbilt was 10-9 all-time in the SEC quarterfinals and are 17-10 all-time. Overall, Vanderbilt has won 11 of its last 12 quarterfinal games.
Trio Earns Postseason SEC Awards Jence Rhoads, Stephanie Holzer and Jasmine Lister each earned postseason honors from the SEC coaches on March 1. Rhoads was named first team All-SEC for the second year in a row, becoming the eigth player in school history to earn first team honors at least twice.
Holzer and Lister were named to the SEC All-Freshman Team and Holzer was also named Sixth Woman of the Year. It is the second year in a row Vanderbilt has landed three players on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Holzer is the first Commodore to earn both honors in the same season and just the school's third recipient of the Sixth Woman of the Year Award.
Comeback in Columbia Vanderbilt's 10-point comeback at South Carolina was its largest comeback of the season. The Commodores outscored South Carolina 36-12 over the final 6:08 of regulation and overtime. The comeback resulted in Vanderbilt moving from fifth to third in the SEC standings. Vanderbilt has won five straight in Columbia.
The Rhoad(s) to Victory After missing the Kentucky game on Feb. 20 due to a sprained ankle, Jence Rhoads returned to the court for both games last week and averaged 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. Rhoads' play came after rarely participating in practice during the week due to her injury.
In Vanderbilt's 10-point comeback at South Carolina, Rhoads finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 43 minutes.
The bulk of Rhoads' points at South Carolina came when Vanderbilt needed them the most. After being held scoreless the first 19 minutes of the second half, Rhoads rebounded her own miss and scored the final basket of regulation to tie the game at 56. She then scored seven of Vanderbilt's 18 points in overtime.