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SEC Tournament roundup

LSU upsets Florida; Kentucky cruises past Vanderbilt

Posted: Friday March 14, 2003 4:07 PM
Updated: Saturday March 15, 2003 2:21 AM

Friday's action
Ronald Dupree
Ronald Dupree and LSU slammed their way into a likely NCAA berth. AP

Friday's Other Games
Kentucky 81, Vanderbilt 63
Auburn 66, Tennessee 53
Miss. State 73, Ole Miss 64

Thursday's Games
Alabama falls to Vanderbilt

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- LSU forward Collis Temple III knew LSU could upset another top-10 team.

Jaime Lloreda scored 21 points and hit a key free throw with 15 seconds remaining as LSU beat No. 7 Florida 65-61 in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

It was the third top-10 team the Tigers have beaten this year. They also upset No. 1 Arizona 66-65 on Dec. 21, and then No. 7 Mississippi State Jan. 11.

"We're capable of winning big games right now," Temple said. "We feel it, we believe it."

Lloreda, who also had 15 boards and four blocked shots, pulled down a rebound with 15 seconds remaining and was fouled hard by Matt Walsh.

With the Tigers up 64-61, Lloreda made the second of two free throws, and LSU held off the Gators' final effort for the victory. Lloreda finished going 5-for-11 from the free-throw line.

"For me that game was special," Lloreda said. "The last time we played them, I played the worst game of my life. I came to play with all my heart today."

LSU (21-9) has won seven straight, while Florida (24-7) has lost three in a row. The Gators have never won the SEC tournament and have been eliminated in their second game the previous five years.

Neither team could do much down the stretch. The Tigers scored just 10 points over the final 10:34, while the Gators had nine. LSU shot 55 percent from the field (27-of-49) and Florida shot 39 percent (21-of-54).

"The constant for our team, even when we had trouble scoring, was that we kept defending hard," LSU head coach John Brady said. "In a game like this, the defensive intensity gets tough for both teams."

Florida, which was coming off losses to Kentucky and Georgia, hoped to use the tournament to improve its seeding in the NCAA tournament.

Ronald Dupree led LSU with 24 points.

"I thought that in the first half we had no answer for Dupree and in the second half we had no answer for Lloreda," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said.

Matt Bonner led Florida with 15 points, Bonell Colas added 11 and Walsh had 10 points.

LSU had a 40-27 halftime lead, but Florida's man-to-man defense early in the second half troubled the Tigers. The Gators opened the half with an 11-2 run, but the Tigers fought back with a 12-6 spurt to go up 54-44 with 13:09 left.

Brady was whistled for a technical with 12:23 left as he protested the lack of a traveling call. Bonner made both free throws and the Gators scored eight straight points to pull to 54-51 with 10:58 remaining.

But the Gators did not hit another field goal until Anthony Roberson's layup with 5:20 left. During that stretch, LSU scored only six points as Lloreda missed three free throws and the Gators made three, narrowing it to 60-56.

"We were not making the shots and LSU was taking advantage of that," Bonner said.

Justin Hamilton stole an LSU pass and dished it off to Roberson, who took it the length of the court for a layup that put Florida within one, 62-61, with 2:32 left. It was the last time Florida would score.

Florida opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers and took an 11-2 lead over the first four minutes of the game.

No. 2 Kentucky 81, Vanderbilt 63

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Down by nine points, Kentucky had no reason to be concerned.

The No. 2 Wildcats simply put together one of their patented runs, cruising to a 81-63 victory over Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday night.

One night after top-ranked Arizona was upset in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, the next team in line avoided a similar fate with plenty of room to spare.

Kentucky (27-3) extended its winning streak to 21 games after becoming just the second SEC team in 47 years to go through the league schedule with a perfect record (16-0). The Wildcats advanced to meet Auburn in Saturday's semifinals.

Keith Bogans scored 16 points, leading four players in double figures. Seven others scored as Kentucky cleared its bench and still shot 53 percent from the field.

This one mirrored the Wildcats' two victories over Vanderbilt (11-18) during the regular season.

On Jan. 14, Kentucky trailed by eight at the half but outscored the Commodores 46-16 over the final 20 minutes for a 74-52 victory. Last week, the Wildcats celebrated Senior Night with a 106-44 romp at Rupp Arena.

Shrugging off the last three halves, Vanderbilt started strong this time. The Big Blue faithful squirmed nervously when Brian Thornton dunked to give the Commodores a 17-8 lead less than eight minutes into the game.

Not to worry. The Wildcats shifted gears and quickly reeled off nine straight points to tie it up. Kentucky finally took its first lead, 28-26, when Jules Camara stole the ball near halfcourt and cruised in for a dunk with 3:58 remaining.

Camara's basket was part of a 14-2 run that closed the half for the Wildcats, who led 36-28 at the break. And they weren't done, either.

Kentucky scored 12 of the first 14 points in the second half, sandwiching a 26-4 spurt around that locker room stopover. Coach Tubby Smith spent most of the night in his seat, not finding any reason to stomp his foot.

Mario Moore scored 18 points to pace Vandy, which needed a late spurt just to reach 35 percent shooting (21-of-60).

Vandy's frustration was epitomized by the final play of the half. Corey Smith was driving for an uncontested layup but lost track of the clock, the buzzer going off before he could release the ball.

Maybe he was better off holding on. The Commodores missed 10 of 11 shots to end the first half, seven of eight to start the second.

Kentucky is seeking its 24th SEC tournament title, already holding more than the other 11 schools combined. By beating Vandy, the Wildcats took care of one of the few blemishes on the tourney blotter.

The Commodores were the only team that didn't have a losing record to Kentucky, splitting six previous meetings. Now, they've joined the rest.

Vanderbilt was coming off an 82-69 upset of Alabama in the opening round. The Commodores snapped a nine-game losing streak and may have knocked the Crimson Tide, a former No. 1, out of the NCAA tournament.

Against Kentucky, which might be the next No. 1, Vanderbilt never had a chance to start a winning streak.

Auburn 66, Tennessee 53

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Auburn has at least one more game in the Southeastern Conference tournament, thanks to a 66-53 victory over Tennessee Friday night.

But both the Tigers and the Volunteers hope they have more games ahead in the NCAA tournament as well.

Auburn (20-10), which had not made the NCAA tournament since 2000, was looking for a good enough showing in its first SEC tournament game to erase the memories of an embarrassing 22-point loss at Mississippi State on Saturday. The Tigers, 38th in the RPI, felt they had to have at least one more win to earn an NCAA invitation.

"I'm not on the committee," Auburn head coach Cliff Ellis said. "I don't know, what do you have to do? We did it in the regular season. We've done it in the conference tournament. What do you have to do?"

Tennessee (17-11) has to hope its 9-8 conference record will offset a 51 RPI and a lack of quality non-conference wins.

"I think this team is NCAA bound," said Tennessee head coach Buzz Peterson. "We have too many good wins. I believe we have more season ahead of us."

Even getting past the quarterfinal round would have been a coup for Tennessee, which is the only SEC team since the conference expanded in 1992 that hasn't made an appearance in the semifinals.

Marco Killingsworth led Auburn with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Marquis Daniels scored 12 and Lewis Monroe added 10.

Ron Slay led Tennessee with 16 points before fouling out with 5:07 remaining. Brandon Crump and Thaydeus Holden each scored 14, Crump also had 10 rebounds.

Tennessee shot under 37 percent from the field and made just 12 of 21 free throws.

Slay had "I Got U UGA" on one shoe and "Higgs I Luv U" on the other. One was a reference to Georgia, which pulled out of the tournament because of academic misdeeds, giving Tennessee a bye in the first round. The other was a tribute to Slay's teammate Jon Higgins, who was ruled academically ineligible for the postseason.

"We're looking for another opportunity to get out there and play and what better than the NCAA tournament?" Slay said.

Auburn never trailed or allowed the Volunteers to come closer than four points early in the second half.

The Tigers outscored the Volunteers 40-22 in the paint.

Auburn led by as much as 11 in the first half as Tennessee went eight minutes without scoring and was up 31-24 at break.

Mississippi State 73, Ole Miss 64

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Mississippi State began the quest to repeat as Southeastern Conference tournament champion with a typically defensive performance, beating Mississippi 73-64 Friday in the quarterfinals.

The Bulldogs (20-8) looked every bit like the team that ranked second in the SEC in points allowed. They advanced to meet LSU in Saturday's semifinals.

Using its advantage in height and bulk, State rarely let the Rebels (14-15) get inside. While Ole Miss was hoisting long jumpers, the Bulldogs were making dunks and layups.

Mario Austin, who announced earlier in the week he will return for his senior season, scored 19 points. Derrick Zimmerman and Timmy Bowers added 14 points apiece.

Mississippi State made 23-of-39 shots from the field, a 59 percent success rate that could be attributed largely to 34 points in the lane. On the other hand, Ole Miss connected on just 23-of-60 (38.3 percent), managing a measly 16 points in the paint.

Leading 28-20 at the half, the Bulldogs took control by scoring the first 10 points of the second half. It was vintage basketball: Zimmerman dunked, Austin dropped in a shot underneath and Michal Ignerski, stepping outside when the defense sagged, swished a 3-pointer.

At the other end, Ole Miss struggled just to get off a shot. Trey Pearson was forced to put up a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down, but Zimmerman got a hand on it. The senior guard pumped his fist and glared toward State's fan section.

Ignerski then swatted away a shot by Justin Reed, igniting a fast break that resulted in another dunk for Zimmerman. Austin finished off the run with a free throw, giving State a 38-20 lead with 16:31 remaining.

The Bulldogs pushed the margin to 47-27 before Ole Miss rallied. Pressuring the ball over the court, the Rebels outscored State 15-2 over a three-minute period to make a game of it.

But State never allowed Ole Miss to get closer than seven.

Reed scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half to lead Ole Miss. Derrick Allen had 11 points and 15 rebounds.

Mississippi State, considered a lock for the NCAA tournament no matter how it does in New Orleans, wasn't taking any chances against its state rival. The teams were meeting for the 227th time, but this was their first game in the SEC tournament.

Ole Miss needed a victory to qualify for the postseason. The Rebels will be staying home for the first time since 1996.

During the regular season, the teams played two close games, both won by the Bulldogs. Mississippi State came out on top 58-57 at Oxford, then pulled off a 68-64 overtime victory on its home court.

Related information
LSU cruises past Arkansas in SEC tournament
LSU-Florida Box Score
Vanderbilt-Kentucky Box Score
Tennessee-Auburn Box Score
Mississippi State-Ole Miss Box Score
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