The second half of Sunday's 2012 SEC Tournament championship game lived up to the exciting first half that preceded it. The Kentucky Wildcats
led 62-55 with five minutes to go, but only scored two points the rest of the way. The Vanderbilt Commodores
reasserted themselves on the boards and took advantage of their free throw opportunities late to hold on for a 71-64 win.
The second half was somehow even more dunktastic than the first. Terrence Jones was the biggest culprit on the day, with back-to-back slams to extend the Wildcats' lead to five just before the midway point of the half.
Jones finished with 12 points and led the team with 11 rebounds. Darius Miller
, returning to UK's starting lineup after playing off the bench the previous two games, apparently responded well to head coach John Calipari's motivation and lead the Wildcats with 16 points on 7-for-17 shooting. Forward Anthony Davis had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats played stellar defense in the second half, finishing with eight blocks for the game. They bullied the Commodores on the perimeter, but Vanderbilt was able to find success inside. Jeffery Taylor
and Festus Ezeli
put up 18 and 17 points, respectively. Taylor also had 12 rebounds as well as two key first-half three pointers.
Vanderbilt's effectiveness under the rim led to an uncharacteristically high number of fouls against the Wildcats. The Commodores went 21-for-32 from the free throw line, outscoring the Wildcats by nine points from the stripe. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
fouled out with 2:50 to go to leave UK shorthanded.
The loss was Kentucky's first to an SEC team this season. Despite the loss, they should earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and may still take the No. 1 overall spot considering that Syracuse and UNC also failed to secure conference tournament titles. Vanderbilt could climb even higher in the seedings after coming in as a No. 6 seed in SB Nation's latest bracketology rankings
. At the moment, they are simply enjoying what was an incredibly hard-fought, emotional win.