Following a 69-55 win over 11th-seeded Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals late Friday night, third-seeded Vanderbilt (20-10) will have little rest before having to face second-seeded and 16th-ranked Kentucky (23-7) at 5:30 p.m. CT in the second semifinal of the SEC Tournament.
Vanderbilt's win on Friday marked the 12th year in a row the Commodores have won at least one SEC Tournament game. It also marked the fifth straight year Vanderbilt has advanced to at least the SEC semifinals. In nine seasons at Vanderbilt, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb has advanced to the semifinals eight times.Friday's win was also the 20th of the season for the Commodores, who have now won at least 20 games 12 straight years.
Kentucky advanced after holding off LSU by two points in the second game of the afternoon session on Friday. Saturday will mark the first time Kentucky and Vanderbilt will meet in an SEC Tournament semifinal. The Vanderbilt is 3-1 all-time against the Wildcats at the tournament with all four meetings coming in the first round.
Vanderbilt has now advanced to 18 SEC Tournament semifinal games and is 8-9 all-time in those games. Meanwhile Kentucky is making it ninth semifinal appearance.
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 18-5 (78.2%) overall in the SEC Tournament with three SEC Tournament crowns.
Vanderbilt is 0-2 this season against the Wildcats. The two teams last met Feb. 20 at Memorial Gym, where Kentucky dealt the Commodores an 80-71 loss. Vanderbilt was without the services of Jence Rhoads that game (sprained ankle) and it was apparent as the Commodores turned the ball over 23 times. Vanderbilt lost 78-68 at Kentucky on Jan. 23. Kentucky used a 30-5 run at the end of the first half to take command of that game.
The Commodores last played Kentucky in the SEC Tournament in 2004, meeting in the first round. Vanderbilt was the sixth seed in that meeting and defeated Kentucky 60-41 en route to winning four games in four days to claim the tournament title in Nashville.
Saturday's game will air on ESPNU with Cara Capuano (play-by-play) and Carolyn Peck (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.
The winner of Saturday's game will play either Tennessee or Georgia in Sunday's SEC Championship Game at 4:30 p.m. CT.
Last Time Out Vanderbilt began its postseason with a bang on Friday at Bridgestone Arena with a convincing 69-55 victory over 11th-seeded Mississippi State in the SEC quarterfinals.
The win ended any chance of Mississippi State (13-17) making a Cinderella run through the tournament after upsetting sixth-seeded Auburn on Thursday, and advanced the third-seeded Commodores (20-10) to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the fifth straight year. Vanderbilt will play Kentucky at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the second semifinal game of the day.
Vanderbilt was led by Tiffany Clarke who scored all 23 of her points in the second half after being limited to just five minutes in the first half due to two early fouls. Clarke scored 14 of the team's final 15 points and also collected nine rebounds.
The Commodores led by seven at the half and took command of the game with a 13-5 run early in the second half. Vanderbilt would extend its lead to as many as 18 points with 5:55 to play.
Vanderbilt has now advanced to the semifinals in eight of nine seasons under Head Coach Melanie Balcomb and has won at least one game in the SEC Tournament each of the last 12 seasons.
The Commodores have now won at least 20 games each of the last 12 seasons.
Vanderbilt built a seven-point lead at the half after shooting 50 percent from the floor. Mississippi State cut Vanderbilt's lead to five with the first bucket of the second half, but wouldn't get any closer.
About Kentucky Kentucky defeated LSU 60-58 in Friday's quarterfinal game to advance to the semifinals. Kentucky has won four straight games. The Wildcats finished second in the SEC. Kentucky is coming off a season in which it went to the elite eight and finished 28-8 overall.
The Wildcats are coached by Matthew Mitchell, who is in his fourth season in Lexington. In addition to taking Kentucky to the NCAA Tournament last season, Mitchell has guided UK to two WNITs.
Mitchell is from the same hometown (Louisville, Miss.) as Vanderbilt assistant Kim Rosamond.
Kentucky Series Vanderbilt is 27-15 all-time against Kentucky. The Commodores have won 14 of 17 in the series and had won 13 straight in the series before losing 63-53 at Kentucky last season. The Wildcats have now won three of four in the series including both meetings this year.
In the SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt is 3-1 all-time against Kentucky with the last meeting coming in 2004 when the Commodores topped the Wildcats 60-41 in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Vanderbilt has won three in a row against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament with the lone loss coming in the 1988 first round (75-67). The previous four meetings between the two schools in the SEC Tournament have all come in the first round.
Two of Vanderbilt's three SEC Tournament wins over Kentucky have come en route to tournament titles (2004 and 1993).
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 9-1 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 43-25 (63.2%) 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 12 seasons. Vanderbilt has made it to at least the semifinals of the SEC Tournament each of the last five 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 18-5 (78.2%) 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 9-2 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 Semifinals Vanderbilt has advanced to the SEC semifinals for the fifth straight year and eighth time in nine seasons under Coach Balcomb. Vanderbilt is 8-9 all-time in semfinal games. Coach Balcomb is 3-4 in SEC semifinals. All three wins have led to titles.
Vanderbilt in the SEC Quarterfinals With the win, Vanderbilt is 8-1 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 18-10 all-time. Overall, Vanderbilt has won 12 of its last 13 quarterfinal games.
Clarke Carries Commodores past Bulldogs Tiffany Clarke matched a season high with 23 points - all in the second half - in Vanderbilt 69-55 win over Mississippi State in the SEC quarterfinals. Clarke scored 14 of the team's final 15 points and scored 10 in a row at one point. She played just five minutes in the firt half after picking up two early fouls.