LSU Tigers dominate Arkansas in 70-54 SEC victory
LSU roared to a 70-54 win over Arkansas in the opening game of SEC tournament
B.J. Young was the only player to score in double figures for the Hogs (13 points)
Arkansas finished with its lowest point total of the season in Thursday's game
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Johnny O'Bryant scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half and grabbed 11 rebounds, helping LSU pull away for a 70-54 victory over Arkansas in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Thursday.
Storm Warren scored 14 for LSU (18-13), which had ended its regular season with a three-game skid but rediscovered its offense in time to open the postseason with a convincing victory. Andre Stringer hit three of four 3-pointers and finished with 11 points for the Tigers, who shot 50 percent (25 of 50), tying their second-highest percentage all season. LSU went 6 of 12 from 3-point range.
B.J. Young scored 13 points for Arkansas (18-14), which has lost six of seven and finished with its lowest point total of the season.
Young was the only player to score in double figures for the Hogs. Mardracus Wade and Julysses Nobles each had nine points.
Ralston Turner and Justin Hamilton each scored 10 for LSU, which had five players in double figures.
After the teams played to a 28-all tie through the first half, LSU opened the second half with a 10-2 surge that began with Stringer's 3 and Hamilton's jumper. Anthony Hickey's layup capped the spurt and made it 38-30, and LSU led 42-33 when Hamilton dunked a few possessions later.
The Tigers made it tough for Arkansas to get inside and the Hogs were unable to make them pay from the perimeter, missing five jumpers in a row while LSU used a 9-0 run to boost its lead to 53-39.
Young finally snapped the Hogs' drought with a driving reverse layup, and Michael Sanchez scored inside soon after while being fouled, but that only cut Arkansas' deficit to 11. O'Bryant helped LSU keep the pressure on with a feisty offensive rebound that he converted into a putback to make it 57-44 with 6:24 left.
Arkansas never challenged after that as LSU's lead grew as large as 17, and the Razorbacks finished shooting 35.8 percent (19 of 53), only marginally better than their season-worst 31.2 percent in a blowout loss at Connecticut.
Trevor Lacey scored 15 points, JaMychal Green added 12 and Alabama played lockdown defense in the final six minutes to beat South Carolina.
The fifth-seeded Crimson Tide led for most of the game, but South Carolina tied it at 51 on the second of back-to-back 3-pointers by Brenton Williams with 6:38 remaining. Alabama (21-10) then held 12th-seeded South Carolina (10-21) scoreless for more than five minutes and did enough on offense to ease past the Gamecocks.
Lacey was efficient for the Crimson Tide and clutch in the final minutes, scoring seven points in the final 3:04 to put the game away. He made 4 of 5 shots from the field - including a 3-pointer - and was 6 of 6 from the free-throw line.
Green added seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
South Carolina lost 11 of 12 games to end the season. Alabama won for the fifth time in six games and advances to play Florida in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Williams and Damien Leonard led South Carolina with 13 points each.
Alabama used an 8-0 run midway through the first half to break open a tight game and eventually build a 37-26 halftime lead. Nick Jacobs scored eight first-half points despite turning his right ankle and briefly leaving the game.
The Tide led by as many as 14 in the first half.
But South Carolina pushed back early in the second half, pulling within 42-40 on R.J. Slawson's layup with 13:48 remaining. The Gamecocks stayed within striking distance throughout the final minutes and appeared to have the momentum after Williams' two 3-pointers, but couldn't score again until a Bruce Ellington layup with 1:33 remaining.
South Carolina had 17 turnovers and was outrebounded 29-25. Alabama had a huge advantage at the foul line, making 24 of 29 while South Carolina made 5 of 6.
Gerald Robinson scored 23 points, Dustin Ware added 13 as Georgia prevailed.
Georgia stretched its lead to 54-41 on Robinson's layup with 8:12 remaining, but Mississippi State had one last rally. Jalen Steele scored nine points in 90 seconds, and his final 3-pointer pulled the Bulldogs within 60-57 with 3:44 remaining.
But Georgia (15-16) -- the tournament's No. 11 seed -- held on for the surprising win. Robinson's jumper with 59 seconds left gave his team an insurmountable 66-59 lead.
Sixth-seeded Mississippi State (21-11) was led by Steele's 19 points. Brian Bryant scored 11 and Dee Bost added 10.
MSU's Arnett Moultrie had a SEC-best 18 double-doubles this season, but finished with just seven points and eight rebounds.
Mississippi State has lost six of its past eight. Georgia has won three of four and will face Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Georgia had already beaten Mississippi State once this season - a 70-68 overtime decision in Starkville, Miss. - and it started a downhill spiral that included a five-game losing streak and tumble from the national rankings. And the Bulldogs were a handful for Mississippi State once again.
Mississippi State's NCAA tournament resume took a major hit with the loss. Missing the "Big Dance" would be a crushing blow for a team that was ranked No. 15 in the nation just a month ago, but fell apart in February and March.
Nick Williams scored a career-high 22 points, and Mississippi ousted Auburn.
Williams, whose previous career-high was 21, was 9-of-14 shooting and drained four 3-pointers. Murphy Holloway added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Rebels (19-12), who have won four straight and might be able to make a case for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they upset Tennessee in their second-round game Friday night.
Frankie Sullivan scored 15 points for Auburn (15-16), which lost for the fourth time in five games on the same day the NCAA acknowledged that federal investigators are looking into point-shaving allegations against suspended Tigers guard Varez Ward.
Kenny Gabriel and Chris Denson each scored 11 points for the Tigers, who were plagued by poor shooting much of the game, finishing at 32.7 percent (18 of 55). Mississippi shot 43.8 percent (21 of 48) and outrebounded Auburn 45-31. Gabriel, who is Auburn's second-leading scorer, is averaging just over 12 points a game, was limited to only 13 minutes because of foul trouble.
Jarvis Summers added 12 points for the Rebels.
Williams hit consecutive 3s during a 12-4 Ole Miss run early in the second half that was capped by Demarco Cox's tip-in and gave the Rebels their largest lead to that point at 42-30.
Auburn declined to fold, responding with an 11-3 run of its own that included fast-break baskets by Denson and Josh Wallace after Mississippi turnovers.
Denson's free throw had the Tigers as close as 45-42 with 9:10 to go before Mississippi started to pull away again with the help of five straight points by Williams on his fourth 3 of the game and another jumper.
Williams later added a baseline jumper and a driving baseline floater to push the Rebels' lead to 57-48, and Ole Miss retained control the rest of the way while Auburn missed a handful of 3s.
Holloway had 10 of his points in the first half. His basket on a spin move in the lane, followed by his lob that set up Reginald Buckner's alley-oop jam, gave Ole Miss a 22-17 lead.
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