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Tennessee rallies from 12 down, beats Vanderbilt 67-61

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Josh Richardson did his best to keep his Tennessee teammates in the game in the second half against Vanderbilt.

Down 12, the senior guard chewed them out during a timeout.

Boy, did the Vols respond.

Tennessee finished the game on a 20-2 run over the final 6:18, and the Volunteers beat Vanderbilt 67-61 Thursday night in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

"I just said that we were playing like we didn't want to be here, like we didn't know how to play basketball," Richardson said. "I told them we were going to be on our way home if we didn't turn it around. I think we picked it up right after that timeout."

That they did.

No. 10 seed Tennessee (16-15) kept its season season alive by finishing the game on a 20-2 run that started with 6:18 left after trailing 59-47. The Vols will play No. 21 Arkansas on Friday night in the quarterfinals.

Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall said the Vols haven't played well a few times this season but have kept competing.

"Even when we were down 12 or 13 with eight to go, we said in the huddle, 'We're going to find a way to win this game, just keep grinding.' And our team did that," Tyndall said. "There's no quit in this team."

Robert Hubbs matched his career-high with 16 points for Tennessee, and Devon Baulkman had 12.

Vanderbilt (19-13) snapped a five-game winning streak. The Commodores hit only one of their final 10 shots and turned it over five times down the stretch. Coach Kevin Stallings said some good shots just didn't fall down the stretch, and he also noticed his young team showing their youth.

"It's frustrating when you control the game for most of the day and then don't do enough to win it," Stallings said. "But we got tentative offensively. ... I think we got tentative, and I think that was apparent. I think that is a sign of youth."

Damian Jones scored 18 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds for Vandy. Wade Baldwin IV scored 14 points, and Riley LaChance had 11.

These in-state rivals hadn't played each other in the tournament since 1987 with Tennessee winning that game, and they split the first two games in league play winning on each other's home court this season.

At one point, Richardson had scored 13 of Tennessee's first 15 points in the second half trying to keep the Vols close.

Hubbs jumpstarted the comeback with a 3-pointer with 6:18 left. Kevin Punter followed with a 3, then Derek Reese added another 3. Hubbs' next 3, with 2:13 left, put Tennessee ahead 64-61 — the Vols' first lead since 18-16. They finished off the game at the line.

Vanderbilt came in shooting 50.8 percent from the floor in its winning streak. The Commodores got a layup from LaChance with 3:07 left, their lone bucket after Jones' jumper put them up 59-47 with 7:18 left.

When Vanderbilt played at Tennessee on Feb. 26, Stallings left Knoxville with a win but was punished by his administration for a profane tirade directed at Baldwin for clapping in front of Vols forward Armani Moore.

Now the Vols take the season series 2-1 and play at least one more game.