As Tennessee was closing in on the first men’s SEC Tournament championship in 43 years, freshman Kennedy Chandler dribbled with his left hand near midcourt and lifted his jersey with the right.
Josiah Jordan James and Santiago Viescovi tried to lure Rick Barnes into Sunday’s celebration by staking out the sideline.
Barnes said, “This time of the year is about players,” and he was able to get in the mix after Barnes’ ninth-ranked Volunteers beat Texas A&M 64-50. The nets were cut down, and Barnes was approached by the players again to place a portion around the neck.
“I think it’s their time. It’s their chance to win the trophy. Barnes said that it was their turn to reduce the nets. “They came to Tennessee in order to make Tennessee a special place. They have done it. They’re truly taking their time.”
James carried the tournament trophy with him when he left Amalie Arena.
The 6-foot-6 junior guard stated, “Taking it back into the crib.”
Tennessee fans have waited since 1979.
Buzz Williams, Texas A&M coach, said that “they beat us from beginning to end.” “We didn’t have any answers for their tactical decisions or their talent.
Vescovi had 17 points while James scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The Vols (26-7), won for the 12th consecutive time in 13 games after a loss to Texas in late January.
Auburn and Kentucky were ranked among the top five teams in the SEC Tournament. Arkansas was the most hot team in the country down to the final stretch. But Tennessee emerged the best team in league after defeating each of these rivals over the past two weeks.
The tournament MVP, Chandler, scored 14 points and provided seven assists for Tennessee. Tennessee recorded assists on 19 out of 22 baskets, including 10 of the Vols’ first 10 after the break.
Texas A&M (23-12), playing its fourth game in just four days, started slowly and never recovered.
The Aggies failed their first eight shots, seven of which were 3-point attempts. Tennessee started the game with Chandler scoring a 3-pointer and James scoring a three-point play. James then hit a shot from behind arc for a quick 9-1 lead.
Texas A&M’s Henry Coleman scored the winning goal at 14-0. The Aggies never reduced their deficit to less than five points the rest of the way. The Aggies failed to score on nine of their three-point attempts in the first half, while shooting 27% overall (6 out of 22) from the field.
In Saturday’s 69–62 semifinal win over Kentucky, Tennessee was also outstanding in defending the 3-point line. Kentucky finished second from 20 from beyond the arc. The Vols have now held 10 of 12 SEC rivals under 65 since their win over Texas A&M in Knoxville, Feb. 1, which saw them score 80 points.
Texas A&M came within five points of Texas A&M’s slow start, at 34-29 on Tyrece Radford’s 3-pointer in the second quarter. Chandler responded with a 3, and Vescovi added another to complete a 9-0 run that brought the lead back to 14.
Chandler fell out of bounds and slid a clever underhand pass to James in a corner. James sank a 3 pointer, giving the Vols their largest lead of the day.
Radford was the leader of Texas A&M. The team beat Florida, No. 4 Auburn, and No. With 13 points, 15 Arkansas reached its first SEC Tournament Final. Henry Coleman was the Aggies’ final scorer with 12 points and seven rebounds. They likely won their way into the NCAA Tournament in Tampa with three wins.
After losing to Auburn in 2019 and Kentucky in 2018, the Vols reached the final for the third consecutive year. They won it all this time.
Barnes stated, “Very proud” of his team. They have worked hard. They are deserved for what they have achieved here.
Texas A&M: Texas A&M’s Aggies were 4 of 19 behind the 3-point line. Quenton Jackson, the leading scorer, was unable to get on track and finished with nine points after 3-of-9 shooting.
Tennessee: For the fifth consecutive year, the Volunteers won SEC Tournament. They won it also in 1936, 1941 and 1943, as well as 1979.
Texas A&M: The Aggies won three games in the SEC Tournament. This likely meant that they would be making a NCAA appearance.
Tennessee: NCAA Tournament.