Kentucky has won 10 straight games, but Arkansas has won eight of its last nine to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens in the SEC title game.
"It was great", Monk said of his 20-point performance.
Freshman guard De'Aaron Fox topped United Kingdom with 18 points.
Semi Ojeleye, the AAC Player of the Year, added 17 points for SMU (29-4), which will meet either CT or No. 15 Cincinnati Sunday for the tournament title and the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Redshirt freshman Dazon Ingram led Alabama with 17 points before fouling out of the contest in the final two minutes.
Now this isn't anything unusual for the Wildcats. This Kentucky team looks to be peaking at the right time, and, even when Malik Monk plays poorly, finds a way to win.
Then, when Monk missed a shot, Zimmerman shouted, "Off to the left today!" "When I know the coach is trusting me and my teammates are trusting me to keep attacking, doing what you're doing, all I've got to do is just make the play". In the second game Vandy trounced Arkansas by 13 and never trailed the entire game.
Monk later followed a Fox jumper with two free throws with 1:13 left.
That changed in a big way once the SEC Tournament began.
"Just seemed like Arkansas was a little faster to the ball, a little faster to the rim, shot a little bit better, did everything a little bit better than us", Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said. After a pair of close wins, the Wildcats took control early against the Razorbacks and maintained their margin - aside from a brief late threat by Arkansas to cut its deficit to nine in the closing moments. Sunday the two NCAA Tournament teams - a certain status will be confirmed by the selection committee - two very different teams will hook up in the finals of the SEC Tournament in a 1 p.m. ET tip in Bridgestone Arena. "He's a 19 year old playing against Arkansas. He's saying stuff before the game, we were warming up and they were talking and talking". "We came in with a mindset of just wanting to get experience for the [NCAA] tournament".
Fellow Razorbacks guard Anton Beard offered his take. We outscoring people early on. "We're playing well and playing for one another". Defensively, Kentucky is yielding 71.8 points against the opposing teams.
HARTFORD, Conn. - Cincinnati and CT played an American Athletic Conference tournament semifinal Saturday more worthy of the Big East Conference both programs once inhabited. But the freshman trio got help from senior Dominique Hawkins, who scored a season-high 14 points off the bench, and both Hawkins and Mychal Mulder hit 3-pointers in the final minute of the first half to quickly increase Kentucky's lead from six to 12 entering halftime.