NEW ORLEANS — Twice this season, Vanderbilt had dreams of upsetting Kentucky.
On Sunday, the Commodores will get their third chance.
And this time, it will mean more than the other two.
Vanderbilt beat a hot Ole Miss team 65-53 on Saturday, setting up an SEC Eastern Division showdown in the conference’s tournament finals.
It’s Vanderbilt’s first tournament finals since 1951.
The Commodores (23-10) overcame poor first-half shooting to earn the berth.
John Jenkins led all scorers with 23 points, going 7 of 16 from the floor, including 5 of 13 from 3-point range. Brad Tinsley had 12 points and Lance Goulbourne had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Vanderbilt.
At halftime, Vanderbilt led only 25-23, escaping with lead in spite of shooting just 33.3 percent.
Ole Miss (20-13) didn’t help itself, letting Vanderbilt’s poor shooting mean little by hitting only 7 of 23 first-half shots itself.
A 16-9 run over the final 7½ minutes. The run was keyed by a Tinsley 3-pointer that put Vanderbilt up by eight.
Kedren Johnson followed with a jumper and Tinsley sank another trey and Vanderbilt’s lead grew to 57-44 with 4:09 to go.
Ole Miss answered with two dunks by Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway, but Johnson’s layup and-1 all but ended the Rebels’ chances.
Jarvis Summers led Ole Miss with 15 points and LaDarius White added 13 in the loss.
And now Vanderbilt sets up a showdown with Kentucky.
The Commodores lost to the No. 1-ranked Wildcats 69-63 on Feb. 11, and then lost two weeks later 83-74.