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SEC tournament: Vandy downs Dogs
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — John Jenkins scored 22 of his career-high 25 points in the second half, and No. 20 Vanderbilt held off Georgia 78-66 Friday night in the Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinals.

The Commodores (24-7) came in with only their third first-round bye since the SEC went to divisional play in 1992 as the East’s No. 2 seed, and they managed to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2004 and just the second time in coach Kevin Stallings’ 11 seasons.

A program that has only one SEC tournament title back in 1951 will play Mississippi State, the West’s No. 1 seed and a 75-69 winner over Florida, on Saturday.

Jenkins hit 5 of 8 from 3-point range. Jermaine Beal also had 16 points and A.J. Ogilvy had 10 points.

Georgia (14-17) couldn’t recreate the magic of 2008 with four wins in four days. Travis Leslie had a career-high 34 points, and Trey Thompkins had 13, all in the second half.

Vanderbilt had lost the last two times after a first-round bye in this tournament. Georgia looked ready to make it three after beating the Commodores in Athens 72-58 on Feb. 6 and losing on the final possession 96-94 in overtime a couple miles away from the Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 25.

These teams looked ready to go to overtime for a second straight game in this series as they swapped the lead back and forth in the opening minutes. Beal’s jumper put Vanderbilt ahead 10-9 with 15:16 left, and the Commodores never trailed again.

But Georgia was brimming with confidence — if not energy — after thumping Arkansas about 24 hours ago and just missing a chance to sweep the season series from Vanderbilt with that overtime loss.

They came back with a 12-1 spurt, and Leslie’s fast-break layup tied it at 23 before Chris Barnes dunked to put Georgia back up 25-23. Steve Tchiengang answered with a layup, and Jeffery Taylor’s jumper put the Commodores back up 27-25 that started a 12-2 finish to the first half for Vanderbilt and a 35-27 halftime lead.

Georgia whittled Vanderbilt’s lead down to two three times in the second half, the last on Ebuka Anyaorah’s free throw at 40-38 with 15:54 left. That was as close as the Bulldogs would get again as Brad Tinsley hit a long jumper 16 seconds later, and Lance Goulbourne’s layup pushed it to 44-38.

That’s when Vanderbilt started sinking 3s to make sure no overtime would be needed this time.

Goulbourne hit a 3, and Jenkins got going. The freshman hit consecutive 3s, added three free throws when fouled on a long shot and then added another 3 with 8:21 left to push the lead to 59-47. Vandy led 69-51 on a pair of Jenkins’ free throws with 5:31 remaining.
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