2-seed Tennessee ends Aggies' run to claim SEC crown
TAMPA, Fla. - Tennessee captured its first SEC Tournament championship in 43 years Sunday, defeating Texas A&M, 65-50.
The Vols led wire-to-wire in the win, building a 14-0 lead in the opening minutes and never leading by less than five points after that.
Freshman guard Kennedy Chandler was named SEC Tournament MVP, while Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi earned All-Tournament honors.
Vescovi led Tennessee on Sunday with 17 points on four made 3-pointers. James contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds for his third career double-double, while Chandler had 14 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
John Fulkerson scored eight points and had a career-high-tying 12 rebounds.
After trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, Texas A&M used a quick spurt out of halftime to cut Tennessee's lead down to five points at the 16:10 mark on a 3-pointer from Tyrece Radford-the smallest deficit that the Aggies had faced since the opening minutes of the game.
However, Tennessee did not let Texas A&M draw any closer-immediately responding with a 12-2 run to extend its lead back to 15 points. The last nine of the 12 points during the run came from Vescovi, who hit two 3-pointers and sank three straight free throws from another 3-point attempt that he was fouled on.
Between Vescovi, James, Chandler and Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee made six of its first seven 3-point attempts of the second half.
After Vescovi's nine straight points, Texas A&M drew no closer than 11 points.
Out of the gates on Sunday, Tennessee was red-hot, building a 14-0 lead by the 15:16 mark. The fast start was aided by three made 3-pointers-one each from Chandler, James and Vescovi.
Following its slow start in which it missed its first eight shots, Texas A&M steadily climbed back into the game, responding to Tennessee's early 14-0 lead with a 10-2 run to cut their deficit to six points.
The Aggies were unable to draw closer than six points in the first half, entering halftime facing a 29-20 deficit.
UP NEXT: Tennessee will await Sunday evening's Selection Show to learn its seeding and matchup for the NCAA Tournament. The 2022 NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on CBS.
VOLS NOTCH W NUMBER 26: Sunday marked Tennessee's 26th win of the season-tied for the fourth-most wins in a single-season in program history. Tennessee has won 26 or more games six times in program history. Three of those six have come under the direction of Rick Barnes.
VESCOVI MOVING UP SINGLE-SEASON 3-POINTERS LIST: With four made 3-pointers during Sunday's win, Santiago Vescovi moved into seventh place on Tennessee's all-time single-season made 3-pointers list. Vescovi has 95 made threes in 33 games this season.
CHANDLER ASCENDING SINGLE-SEASON STEALS LIST: With one steal Sunday, Kennedy Chandler brought his season total to 68-moving him into sole possession of third place on Tennessee's all-time single-season steals list.