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After leading by five points at halftime, Kentucky came out in the second half and took control of the game with a 7-0 run to start. The lead provided the Wildcats with the cushion they needed to smother the Gators defensively going on to capture a 70-54 victory and an SEC Tournament Championship.
For the Wildcats, Brandon Knight led the way with 17 points and four assists. Terrence Jones had a big second half scoring 16 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Darius Miller added 15 points for Kentucky.
The Gators were led by Kenny Boynton's 10 points while Chandler Parsons netted nine. Florida fans will point to the 29-8 advantage Kentucky held at in free throws attempted as a reason for this victory. The Wildcats were simply the more aggressive team and were able to penetrate the Florida defense seemingly at will. Kentucky did a good job of contesting Florida who never could fully get in sync offensively.
Both Kentucky and Florida now turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament where coming into this game, SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean had Kentucky projected as a four seed in the East Regional. Dobbertean had projected the Gators with a No. 2 seed in the southeast. It remains to be seen how far Kentucky can move up with this victory and where Florida will end up after the loss.
Kentucky built an early halftime lead before Florida began to chip away .After Kentucky led by as many as nine points in the first half, Florida captured its first lead with just under 12 minutes to go at 20-19. Both teams swapped leads back and forth for a stretch before Kentucky went on a 9-0 run holding Florida scoreless for around five minutes enabling them to build a small advantage. The Wildcats closed the half leading 34-29.
Kentucky is led at the half by Brandon Knight's eight points. DeAndre Liggins and Doron Lamb are not showing any ill effects of the ankle injuries that they suffered yesterday in the semifinal win over Alabama. Liggns scored seven points in the first half hitting his only three point attempt and all four of his free throws in the first half. Lamb started slowly but finished well with six points.
The Gators offense was sparked by Scottie Wilbekin's eight points off the bench. Chandler Parsons added six while Kenny Boynton had five. A couple of things to keep an eye on in the second half. Kentucky has a huge advantage at the free throw line attempting 14 in the first half to Florida's one. The Gators are going to have to penetrate the inside and attack Kentucky in the paint. Another thing to watch for is fatigue. Florida has a much deeper bench than Kentucky although junior forward Eloy Vargas was able to come in and give the Wildcats some valuable minutes in the first half. The Gators played nine players in the first half and will be interesting to see if Kentucky wears down in the second half.
After a rocky start to their conference season, Kentucky (24-8, 10-6 SEC) enters the tournament final on a hot streak, having lost only once in their last eight games (a one-point overtime decision at Arkansas). They're coming off a dominating 14-point win over an Alabama team that had played extremely well against SEC opponents.
Florida, however, has been as dominating a squad as the SEC has seen this year. The Gators (26-6, 13-3) had a few embarrassing losses in non-conference play but also managed to knock off Xavier and then-sixth-ranked Kansas State; so far in the SEC tournament, they've knocked off very good Tennessee and Vandy teams by 11 points apiece. In fact, they've lost only once since the end of January -- although that one loss was at the hands of the Wildcats.
Either way, expect a very, very blue Georgia Dome crowd this afternoon as a Gator fan base with a huge Atlanta presence meets a Wildcat fan base that has blanketed the city nearly all week long.
Two SEC East teams will meet in the 2011 SEC Tournament title game, as Florida dispatched Vanderbilt, 77-66. in Saturday's semifinals matchup. The Gators will get Kentucky in the final after UK topped Alabama earlier.
Florida and Kentucky split their regular-season matchups, with the Wildcats winning the point differential by a hair. They'll have the home-court advantage in Sunday's 1 pm championship game at the Georgia Dome, as Catlanta has been in full effect these past two days. Early in Georgia-Alabama, blue shirts pretty much outnumbered aggregate red shirts.
Kenny Boynton led the Gators today with 24 points, while Chandler Parsons and Patric Young combined for 17 rebounds. Florida played strong defense, holding Vandy well under 40 percent shooting from the floor.
Of the four teams that have advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals, only one, Alabama, hails from the SEC West; the other three, not coincidentally, finished 1-2-3 in the regular-season Eastern Division standings. Here's today's schedule:
Both should be good games, but the first of the two is even more intriguing. The Wildcats (23-8, 10-6 SEC) have had a so-so season by Kentucky standards but closed the regular season with five wins in their last six games, and handled a 20-win Ole Miss squad last night to advance to the tournament semis; they may be peaking at exactly the right time. Of course, the same could be said for the Crimson Tide (21-10, 12-4), who suffered some embarrassing early losses against a less-than-imposing non-conference slate but dominated their division once SEC play began. The coaches, too, are a study in contrasts -- Kentucky's John Calipari, of course, needs no introduction, while Alabama's Anthony Grant is in just his second year at the helm of a major-conference program but already appears to have the Tide headed in the right direction.
Grant clearly has the bigger burden on his shoulders today -- a high seed is virtually assured for the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament, according to Blogging the Bracket, while Alabama still resides among the "First Four Out." Tide fans are no doubt fuming that 20 wins, a 12-4 conference record and a comeback win over a tough Georgia team in the second round of the SECs still may not be enough to lock down an invitation to the Big Dance, but if the Tide succeeds in knocking off Calipari's team to advance to the SEC tourney championship, that probably won't be an issue.
Vanderbilt topped Mississippi State 87-81 in the second round of the 2011 SEC Tournament. The game was tied with about two minutes left, until John Jenkins, back from injury, scored nine points down the stretch. Jenkins finished with 29 points, including five threes, clearly giving the Vandy offense that had struggled against LSU a spark.
The Dores will get Florida in the semifinals. The Gators won both of their meetings this season, though the Nashville matchup went to overtime.
Here's a fun stat for the evening: both of these teams shot exactly 50 percent on the night. Not a frequent number in a game involving at least one SEC West team. Alabama is now the sole representative of the division that basketball forgot, heading into the maw of Catlanta tomorrow at 1 pm.
Ole Miss' Chris Warren tried to carry the Rebels past Kentucky it was just that Brandon Knight and company weren't going to allow it. Ole Miss could get close but could never find a way to overtake Kentucky who found a way to come up with a basket down the stretch whenever they needed it to pull out a 75-66 win over the Rebels. Doron Lamb led the Wildcats with 19 points while Brandon Knight tossed in 17 points, six rebounds, six assists.
The first round of the SEC Basketball Tournament is in the books, with all of the highest seeds advancing. There wasn't a lot of drama in the first round, but there'll be some juicy matchups in the second:
We'll be getting our first look at Kentucky in the tournament this afternoon, and the Wildcats (22-8, 10-6 SEC) make for an interesting case. As usual, John Calipari's team was pegged as an SEC title contender in the preseason, and raced out to a 12-2 start, but lost their SEC opener in a big upset to Georgia and muddled through losses to Alabama, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt before winning five of their last six to finish the season. While that may only be a so-so campaign by UK standards, they're still ranked #15 in the AP poll and #16 by the coaches, and Blogging the Bracket has them pegged as a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There's a chance they could move up to a #3 if they make a championship run through the SEC tourney.
Their opponent, Ole Miss (20-12, 7-9) handled South Carolina 66-55 yesterday afternoon but isn't going to sniff the NCAA tournament unless they win the SEC. Barring that, this looks like the fourth time in coach Andy Kennedy's five seasons in which a 20-win Rebel squad will be headed to the NIT.
Even minus leading scorer John Jenkins, the Vanderbilt Commodores made the LSU Tigers look like the ... well, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the opening round of the 2011 SEC Tournament. Vandy won 62-50, dominating the boards, getting to the free throw line (and converting), and moving the ball acceptably.
Vanderbilt gets Mississippi State in Friday's quarterfinals round. The Dores beat the Dawgs 81-74 in Starkville in their only meeting this season, with Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor combining for 46 points.
The Commodores are clearly missing Jenkins, shooting just over 40 percent on the night. Taylor filled in as the team's leading scorer, putting up 21 points and 12 rebounds. Jenkins is expected to play against Mississippi State -- in fact, he'd been described as "available if we need him" for this game, and, yeah, they really never needed him.
Georgia pounded Auburn inside on its way to a 69-51 victory. Trey Thompkins scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Travis Leslie added 12 points and 10 boards. The Bulldogs pounded Auburn on the boards out rebounding the Tigers by a final count of 35-22.
Freshman guard Chris Denson scored a career high 21 points for Tigers but the Bulldogs defense limited Auburn's leading scorer Earnest Ross to just four points on 1-10 shooting. Ross scored 30 points in the previous meeting between these two clubs.
Georgia's victory sets up a rematch with Alabama who defeated the Bulldogs 65-57. While Georgia appears to be in the NCAA Tournament field, a victory over the Crimson Tide would remove all doubt. Conversely Alabama is one of the first four team's out in Chris Dobbertean's latest Bracketology projection and a victory over Georgia might be necessary for them to move into the tournament field.
Updated 2011 SEC Tournament Bracket (all times EST):
The first day of the SEC Basketball Tournament features a number of games that could range from blah to downright horrendous, but the third game of the evening, Tennessee vs. Arkansas, might actually feature some decent hoops. Click here for a complete bracket, and here's today's TV schedule:
Tennessee (18-13, 8-8 SEC) was supposed to be a prime contender for the SEC title, but had a major monkeywrench thrown into their season when Bruce Pearl was suspended for the first half of conference play for making improper recruiting contacts. Weirdly enough, they went 5-3 during Pearl’s suspension and just 3-5 with him back on the court (though that has a lot to do with the fact that Pearl’s first two games back were road games at Florida and Kentucky). Thanks to big early-season wins over Villanova, Pitt and Memphis, as well as a sweep of Vanderbilt in SEC play, the Vols’ presence in the NCAA tournament field is probably assured — SB Nation’s Blogging the Bracket projects them as a #9 seed — but a strong SEC tourney run might improve that a bit.
Meanwhile, Arkansas, with an 18-12 overall record and a 7-9 record in conference play, probably doesn’t make the NCAA field without winning the SEC tourney title. They do possess conference wins over Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee (they beat the Vols by three points in January), but those are balanced out by a bad loss to LSU and sweeps at the hands of Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The Razorbacks are likely headed to a middling seed in the NIT.
The final match-up in the opening round of the 2011 SEC Basketball Tournament, whose complete bracket you can see right here, is a match-up between LSU and Vanderbilt. On paper, this game could be the most lopsided match-up of the first round pitting the Commodores who are a twenty win team against an LSU club that has just three conference wins this season.
Of course these sorts of things aren't played out on paper and Vanderbilt comes into the tournament losing three of its last four games. Those three losses were to three of the better teams in the SEC in Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The only win for the Commodores in that four game stretch was a 90-69 victory over these same LSU Tigers that they will face on Thursday. Vanderbilt finished as the third seed in the East and is led by the SEC's leading scorer John Jenkins who is averaging 19.4 points per game this season.
It has been a lost season in Baton Rouge for LSU coach Trent Johnson. His Tigers at one point lost ten consecutive conference games and finished with just one win in LSU's last 14 games. The Tigers are led by All-SEC freshman guard Ralston Turner who averaged 12.8 points per game in his first season in the bayou.
Tip off for this game is scheduled for 10 p.m.
Thursday's third game in the 2011 SEC Basketball Tournament (complete bracket right here) will match-up Tennessee and Arkansas. The Volunteers are the No 5 seed from the Eastern Division while Arkansas is the No 4 seed from the west. The Vols finished the season 18-13, 8-8 in conference play. The Razorbacks were 18-12, 7-9 in SEC play. The game kicks off the evening session at the Dome and is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 p.m.
It in interesting that both of these teams match-up with each other in the first round of the tournament given the scrutiny that both of the team's head coaches have been under this season. Arkansas coach John Pelphrey recently had to defend his program against claims made in a recent local newspaper ad. That may seem minor when you consider that Tennessee was without its head coach Bruce Pearl for eight games after being suspended by the SEC for apparently misleading NCAA investigators when questioned about recruiting violations.
In an up and down season, the Vols have been more down of late. They lost their final two home games to Mississippi State and Kentucky. They did pull out a hard-fought 73-69 victory over South Carolina before the Kentucky loss but are just 3-6 in their last nine games. Tennessee is however very talented. Talented enough to defeat teams like Memphis, Villanova, and No. 3 Pitt. The problem is they are also inconsistent enough to lose to teams like Oakland, Charlotte, and College of Charleston. Scotty Hopson leads the way for the Vols averaging 17.7 points per game.
The Razorbacks lost their last two games of the season to Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Like the Vols, they experienced some tough losses but found a way to beat both Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Arkansas is led by junior guard Rotnei Clarke who is averaging 15.1 points per contest.
The winner of this match-up will advance to take on No. 1 overall seed Florida on Friday.
South Carolina and Ole Miss will square off in the second game of the 2011 SEC Basketball Tournament. Tip off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
South Carolina is the fifth seed from the SEC East but did defeat the third seeded Rebels in their only meeting this season. The Gamecocks broke a five game losing streak by defeating Ole Miss 79-73 in Columbia behind 23 points from Sam Muldrow. That victory was South Carolina's only win in its last nine games of the regular season.
Ole Miss enters the tournament with a 19-12 overall record and fresh off of a 84-74 victory over Arkansas in its regular season finale. The Rebels are led by one of the SEC's top scorers in senior guard Chris Warren whose 18.9 points per game average ranks him second in the conference.
South Carolina finished a disappointing 14-15 on the season and just 5-11 in conference play. Of the Gamecocks five conference victories, two came at the expense of SEC East heavyweights Florida and Vanderbilt. So South Carolina is capable of pulling the upset behind the stellar play of freshman guard Bruce Ellington how averages 13 points and 3.2 assists per game.
The winner of this game will be rewarded with a match-up against the East's No. 2 seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the second round.
The 2011 SEC Basketball Tournament will tip off this Thursday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The first match-up tips off at 1 p.m. and will be between the fourth seeded Georgia Bulldogs and the fifth seeded Auburn Tigers.
Georgia finds itself sitting firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble and can ill afford an early tournament exit especially to an Auburn team that has struggled for much of the season. Georgia won the previous meeting against the two teams but needed overtime to prevail 81-72 in Athens. In that game, Auburn’s Earnest Ross scored a career high 30 points while nearly leading the Tigers to an upset win over the Bulldogs. Georgia outscored Auburn 14-5 in overtime behind 22 points and 14 rebounds from senior Jeremy Price.
Now the two teams meet with much still at stake for the Bulldogs. With a win Georgia gets a rematch with western division champ Alabama and another chance to help strengthen its tournament resume. If Georgia loses then they may be making plans for the NIT rather than the NCAA tournament. Auburn is looking to play the part of spoiler and is just looking to extend its season one more game.
SEC regular-season play concluded Sunday with the Kentucky Wildcats 64-58 win over the Tennessee Volunteers. The 2011 SEC Tournament starts Thursday, and the East's logjam has finally cleared up. The Georgia Bulldogs, who entered the weekend with a chance at the East's No. 2 seed, hold steady at No. 4 after losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide, getting the Auburn Tigers at 1 pm ET to open the tourney.
The Florida Gators hold the No. 1 seed, followed by Bama, Kentucky, and the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. Those four teams will get first-round byes. Thursday's matchups pair non-bye teams from each division according to their standing.
The Vanderbilt Commodores get the LSU Tigers, Tennessee draws the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the South Carolina Gamecocks are up against the Mississippi Rebels. When that last game airs, you may skip it without losing your right to chant "SEC!" at passerby, because gawd.
The complete TV schedule and bracket (all games SEC Network unless otherwise noted) via the SEC's website:
Auburn is not good at basketball, so UGA kind of did earn a bye. Though the Plaigles took the Dawgs to overtime this season, the Wargers' only victory of any note at all came against the Florida St. Seminoles. Other than that, Auburn's win column is made up of a bunch of SEC West teams and schools you've never heard of.
The 2011 SEC Tournament, beginning March 10, now has a clearer pecking order. The Florida Gators trounced the Alabama Crimson Tide 78-51 Tuesday night, giving Florida the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Chandler Parsons in particular was huge for Florida, which overcame a halftime tie to blow out Alabama in the second.
Having won the SEC West, Alabama will get a first-round bye as well, as will whoever emerges from among the Vanderbilt Commodores, Kentucky Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, and Mississippi St. Bulldogs. Hey, Vandy and Kentucky battle for the East’s other bye Tuesday night as well.
Winning the top spot entitles Florida to a slightly easier game on Friday than the one they would’ve drawn if they’d lost the advantage.
The loss hurts Bama’s NCAA Tournament chances, meaning the Tide will need a strong showing in the conference tourney to keep their strong season alive.
No major shuffles in the SEC basketball standings so far this week, but the Florida Gators clinching the Eastern Division crown is worth an update. The Gators outscored the Georgia Bulldogs 71-62 last night in yet another disheartening comeback win allowed by the Dawgs this year.
This means Florida and the Alabama Crimson Tide have locked up the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, with the two other first-round byes still at play. Right now, the Vanderbilt Commodores and Arkansas Razorbacks would get those spots, though it’s a four-team race in the East and three teams are fighting it out in the West.
Georgia’s chances of earning a bye are slim, but they’d need to start by sweeping the South Carolina Gamecocks, LSU Tigers, and Bama. The first two, both home games, are mighty winnable, and the Tide won’t have a whole lot to play for in their season finale, so don’t rule it out. They’ll also need some complication concoction of losses by the Kentucky Wildcats and Vandy, who play each other — and Florida — down the stretch.
With four games left in the 2010-11 regular season, the Alabama Crimson Tide have laced up the Western Division title, guaranteeing them a top-two seed and a first-round bye in the 2011 SEC Tournament bracket. There's still plenty to play for, as they have the same 10-2 conference record as the East-leading Florida Gators.
The Georgia Bulldogs currently sit at No. 4 in the East with a 7-5 record, meaning they'd draw the West's No. 5, the LSU Tigers, in round one if the tournament started today. Who else is pumped about a potential South Carolina Gamecocks-Arkansas Razorbacks showdown?
Florida has a two-game lead on the Vanderbilt Commodores in the East, with the Kentucky Wildcats close behind. And yes, the West could again give us a wretched first-round bye team, with the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, Mississippi Rebels, and Razorbacks all fumbling to back into a freebie.
Here's the SEC Tournament schedule as best we know it at this point:
Thursday, March 10
These games would go in some order in the following four slots: Kentucky-Auburn, Georgia-LSU, Tennessee-Arkansas, and South Carolina-Ole Miss.
Friday, March 11
These teams would have first-round byes and play their first games on Friday: Florida, Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State.
Saturday, March 12
Sunday, March 12
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