No. 18 Texas A&M advanced to the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game for the second straight year with an 87-75 victory over sixth-seeded Vanderbilt in the semifinals on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.
Wade Taylor IV had 25 points and four assists for the second-seeded Aggies (25-8), who will play No. 4 and top-seeded Alabama (28-5) for their first tournament title since joining the league prior to the 2012-2013 season.
Tyrece Radford added 16 points and five assists and Julius Marble chipped in 13 points and four rebounds for Texas A&M, which has won 10 of its past 11 games.
Texas A&M shot 31 of 52 (59.6 percent) from the field, including a red-hot 10 of 19 (52.6 percent) from 3-point range.
Vanderbilt (20-14), which saw a five-game winning streak end, was led by Jordan Wright’s 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Tyrin Lawrence had a team-best 18 points, with Ezra Manjon adding 16 points and seven assists for the Commodores, who lost for just the second time in their past 12 games. Colin Smith had 15 points.
Vanderbilt really missed SEC Defensive Player of the Year Liam Robbins, the team’s leading scorer (15 points per game), rebounder (6.8) and shot blocker (3.2), who is out for the season sustaining a broken right leg against Kentucky on March 1.
The Aggies outrebounded the Commodores 30-21.
Texas A&M dominated from the outset, jumping out to a 14-point lead in less than eight minutes before taking a 49-25 halftime advantage.
The Commodores didn’t get closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Radford scored 11 points and Marble added 10 in the first 20 minutes for Texas A&M, which shot a blistering 20 of 29 (69 percent) from the field, including an impressive 7 of 12 (58.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
Vanderbilt was led by Smith’s nine first-half points, but the Commodores had more turnovers (12) than made baskets (10) before halftime.
The Commodores shot 10 of 24 (41.7 percent) from the field, including a 4 of 12 (33.3 percent) from distance.
The Aggies fell 65-50 to Tennessee in last year’s tournament final, costing the Aggies a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
–Field Level Media