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Mississippi tops Vanderbilt to reach SEC final

NASHVILLE — Vanderbilt's improbable run through the SEC tournament came to an end Saturday with a 64-52 loss to Mississippi in the semifinals.

The victory for the third-seeded Rebels (25-8) sets up a rematch today with top seed Florida for the tournament championship. Florida defeated Ole Miss 78-64 on Feb. 2 in Gainesville, but the Rebels said they remain confident heading into today's game.

"I'm excited," said Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, who had 23 points Saturday. "They are a really good team. … It's going to be a really good game. Both teams will be on their third game in three days, but we're both rounding into form for this NCAA Tournament."

No. 10 seed Vanderbilt (16-17), which was playing its third game in three days, led by as many as nine in the first half, but Ole Miss rallied with the final eight points of the half to tie the score at 26 at halftime. Then trailing 36-34, the Rebels went on an 11-0 run to take a 45-36 lead.

"They just played better than we did" Saturday, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.

The Rebels believe the win secured them a spot in the NCAA Tournament, which would be their first in coach Andy Kennedy's seven seasons.

"At 25-8, we've won 14 SEC games and not many people are still playing, so I feel pretty confident about our ability to get the albatross from around the neck of this program as it relates to the NCAA Tournament," Kennedy said. "We've got a chance to compete for a championship, and there's very few times in your life you have a chance to compete for a championship. So that's where I want our focus to be."

Mississippi tops Vanderbilt to reach SEC final 03/16/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 16, 2013 11:01pm]
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