SEC: UK shakes off poor start to overcome LSU, Gators escape
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 19 points to help Kentucky past LSU 60-51
Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis combined to grab 25 rebounds in win
Florida survived a late 16-4 Alabama run to beat Crimson Tide 66-63
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- John Calipari sounded like a coach trying to explain away a loss.
No. 1 Kentucky wasn't just supposed to beat LSU, it was supposed to win comfortably. Instead, the Wildcats labored through an 18-turnover performance in which the feisty Tigers led early in the second half and never trailed by more than nine before Kentucky closed out a 60-51 victory Friday in the second-round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
"I'll go back and watch the tape and see what adjustments (need to be made), because people will be watching the tape, saying `This is how you need to play them,"' Calipari said. "And we have been played every way possible."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist helped Kentucky overcome its early lethargy, scoring 10 of his 19 points in the opening 20 minutes before his fellow Wildcats came alive in the second half.
Terrence Jones added 15 points and 11 rebounds, including a 9-0 run by himself that gave the Wildcats (31-1) the lead for good as they extended their winning streak to 23 games. Anthony Davis added 12 points and 14 rebounds after a slow start, and Doron Lamb scored 12.
Lamb credited the Tigers with turning up the intensity, adding that the Wildcats perhaps should have anticipated that, given LSU would hardly be guaranteed a postseason tournament berth if it lost.
"It might be their last game of the season and they just came out with a fight and were hungry," Lamb said. "They punched us in the face in the first half, and in the second half we fought back and pulled out the win."
Storm Warren scored 14 for LSU (18-14), which came in as a 17-point underdog after beating Arkansas in Thursday's opening round. The Tigers led by as much as five points early in the second half before Jones' surge turned the tide.
"I didn't want my season to end," Warren said. "I just pretty much came out and laid it on the line."
Andre Stringer added 11 points for the Tigers, who might have had a real chance to pull off the upset if they could have shot better than 29.4 percent (20 of 68).
"A tough, tough, tough loss," LSU coach Trent Johnson said. "I thought we competed as hard and as good as we have all year. It's unfortunate for us that we had some shots that didn't go down for us. ... But let's give credit to them, that's not a good basketball team that beat us, that's a great basketball team."
LSU held the lead early in the second half, thanks to an 11-2 run highlighted by Ralston Turner's transition 3-pointer and his driving finger roll.
Then Jones, who scored a season-high 27 points when these teams met earlier in the season, threw down an alley-oop lob from Darius Miller and soon after drove the baseline for another dunk.
"Our coach challenged us to be more aggressive, said that they were being more physical than us in the first half," Jones said. "We just tried to step that up in the second half by getting to the foul line, by just going through bumps.
Jones' putback gave Kentucky the lead for good at 37-35, and soon after Davis began to find his typically smooth stroke, scoring 11 of his points in the second half. Kentucky never led by more than nine points, but never appeared seriously threatened during the final five minutes, after LSU's 6-foot-9, 262-pound forward Johnny O'Bryant fouled out.
Turner and guard Anthony Hickey, a Kentucky native, each finished with 10 points for the Tigers, who lost for the fourth time in five games.
The Wildcats shot 43 percent (18 of 42) and outrebounded LSU 42-36, but their turnovers were double their average for the season, helping the Tigers stay within single digits.
Kentucky entered the game not only as a heavy favorite but had the crowd overwhelmingly in its favor, despite the fact the game was being played 85 miles from LSU's Baton Rouge campus.
The Tigers hardly looked intimidated though, turning in a scrappy defensive performance. LSU forced nine turnovers in the first half and held the Wildcats to under 32 percent shooting while holding the lead for much of the first 20 minutes.
LSU went in front with an early 10-1 run ignited by Hickey's layups and capped by 3s each by Stringer and Turner, the last making it 12-7.
Kentucky got little production early from Davis, who had four turnovers and only one point before going to the bench for the last seven minutes of the half with two fouls. The Wildcats led only 25-24 at halftime after Lamb's jumper late in the period.
"They just got really physical and made it tough," Calipari said of LSU. "They got balls from us. They made baskets. We missed layups. We turned lazy passes over. They're shooting breakout layups. ... I'm happy we won. Now we've got to go on and figure some of this stuff out."
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Bradley Beal scored 16, Erik Murphy added 15 and Florida beat Alabama 66-63 in the Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinals on Friday.
The Gators had a 45-33 lead with 12:50 remaining after Murphy hit a pair of free throws, but Alabama responded with a 16-4 run to tie it at 49 on JaMychal Green's three-point play with 6:52 to go.
Alabama had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Trevor Lacey's 3-pointer bounced off the front of the rim.
Florida (23-9) snapped a three-game slide and will face top-ranked Kentucky on Saturday in the semifinals.
Alabama (21-11) lost for just the second time in seven games. Green had 22 points, Trevor Releford scored 12 and Lacey added 11.
It's been a struggle of late for Florida, which lost its last three regular-season games to Georgia, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
And this one wasn't much different - except for the final result. The Gators shot just 32 percent (8 of 25) from the field in the first half and led 26-24 at the break after Alabama's Levi Randolph hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Alabama's defense had something to do with Florida's offensive woes. The Crimson Tide's bruising, grind-it-out style is completely opposite of the Gators, who like to run, shoot and turn the game into a constant sprint.
It wasn't until Erving Walker's outburst early in the second half that the Gators were finally able to get some separation. The 5-foot-8 point guard scored seven points in less than five minutes, shrugging off Alabama's physical guards and consistently getting into the lane, where he could finish at the rim or find another shooter around the 3-point line.
For a while, it looked as if the Gators looked would cruise, but Alabama erased a 12-point deficit in less than six minutes. The Tide got a huge game from Green, who was 7 for 14 from the field and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out four assists.
But that one miss at the free-throw line hurt.
Green had a chance to tie it with 20.3 seconds remaining, but his second of two foul shots rattled out and Kenny Boynton converted both of his free throws on the other end to push Florida's lead to 66-63. Boynton finished with 14 points.
Lacey got a fairly clean look on the last-gasp 3-point attempt, but it was short, clanging off the front of the rim. The Tide shot 56.5 percent from the field (13 of 23) in the second half and outrebounded Florida 32-27 for the game.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Terrance Henry scored 19 points, Jarvis Summers added 17 and Mississippi beat Tennessee 77-72 in overtime in the Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinals on Friday night.
Henry hit two free throws with 9.1 seconds left in regulation to give Ole Miss a 61-58 lead, but Tennessee's Skylar McBee banked in a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime.
The Rebels pushed ahead 70-63 in overtime on Murphy Holloway's putback, but Tennessee rallied to pull within 74-72 on two free throws by Jarnell Stokes. Henry closed out the game by making two free throws with 11 seconds remaining.
Ole Miss (20-12) advances to the tournament semifinals for the first time since 2007.
Tennessee (18-14) was led by Trae Golden's 21 points. McBee and Cameron Tatum both scored 15. The Volunteers shot just 28.1 percent (18 of 64) from the field.
Both teams badly needed the win to improve mediocre NCAA tournament resumes, and the air of desperation was evident from the opening tip, with brutally physical play on both ends of the court. Points were at a premium and open looks were rare.
Ole Miss and Tennessee battled to a 28-28 halftime draw as the seventh-seeded Rebels managed to hang in the game despite rampant foul trouble. Five different players, including three starters, had two fouls, so coach Andy Kennedy was forced to use a patchwork of rarely used reserves like Aaron Jones and Maurice Aniefiok.
It worked decently, but the Rebels didn't have much answer for Golden, who scored 11 first-half points.
The second half was just as intense. Neither team led by more than four points.
Holloway was crucial down the stretch for the Rebels, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Reginald Buckner had 12 points and eight rebounds. Ole Miss outscored Tennessee 38-12 in the paint.
Tennessee was the surprise of the SEC this season, recovering from some terrible losses during the nonconference portion of its schedule to finish 10-6 in the league and earn the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
The Volunteers have been getting NCAA attention because of the strong finish, but there's no doubt the loss to Mississippi hurts.
Ole Miss gets another chance to build its resume on Saturday in the semifinals against the winner of the Vanderbilt-Georgia game.
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