Kennedy Chandler scored 19 points, Zakai Zeigler added 11 and No. 9 Tennessee held off fifth-ranked Kentucky 69-62 in the final minutes Saturday to reach the Southeastern Conference Tournament final for the third time in the last five years.
The Volunteers (25-7) have won 11 of 12 and taken a huge step toward potentially securing a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Tennessee will face eighth-seeded Texas A&M on Sunday in the SEC title game.
The Wildcats (26-7) had been penciled into a top seed, but losing to Tennessee twice in three meetings could flip the script. Chandler, Ziegler and Josiah-Jordan James helped author the changes.
Chandler, a freshman guard from Memphis, made 8 of 16 shots and seemingly had an answer every time third-seeded Kentucky looked like it would make a run in front of a pro-Big Blue crowd inside packed Amalie Arena. Chandler added three rebounds, two assists and a steal.