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Alabama Crimson Tide advances to rematch with Florida Gators in SEC tournament

NEW ORLEANS — Freshman Trevor Lacey scored a team-high 15 and senior forward JaMychal Green added 12 to help Alabama to a 63-57 victory Thursday over South Carolina in the first round of the SEC tournament and set up a rematch with Florida today.

The Tide (21-10) took a 37-26 lead at halftime, but South Carolina made it interesting down the stretch. The Gamecocks went on an 11-1 run to tie it at 51 with 6:40 remaining but were unable to hold on late. Alabama hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 28 seconds to seal the win.

"I'm very proud of our guys for their effort," Tide coach Anthony Grant said. "It was a great win for us. From the beginning of the game our energy and effort was really good. Defensively the guys really locked in and did what we prepared to do.

A horrendous season came to a tough end for South Carolina (10-21). The Gamecocks will not advance to the postseason, and fourth-year coach Darrin Horn's status in jeopardy. Horn said he'll meet with school administrators sometime soon, but in the meantime he plans to proceed with business as usual, beginning with recruiting as soon as possible.

LSU 70, ARKANSAS 54: LSU's Johnny O'Bryant scored a game-high 18 to help the Tigers (18-13) end a three-game losing streak. LSU outscored Arkansas (18-14) 42-26 in the second half and shot 55.6 percent.

The good news for LSU fans is the Tigers extended their season. The bad news is they face No. 1 seed Kentucky in today's quarterfinals. But LSU sees it as a challenge, not an automatic loss.

"I'm not caught up in Cinderella," coach Trent Johnson said. "I just know the challenge is huge. We have to play well, and they have to help us by not playing as well as they have been playing."

In a blowout loss to Kentucky on Jan. 28, LSU players acknowledged that Malcolm White went too far when he came from behind and flung down UK's Anthony Davis. White was ejected and served a one-game suspension.

White, a senior forward not known for overly aggressive play, sent a letter of apology to Davis and Wildcats coach John Calipari a few days later. He expressed his regrets on Wednesday and again Thursday, saying "that will haunt me the rest of my life."

"Everything is good," Calipari said Thursday. "Just go out and play basketball, and I think that's what we'll do. We're fine."

Ole miss 68, auburn 54: Nick Williams scored a career-high 22, making four 3-pointers, as the Rebels (19-12) beat the Tigers (15-16). Mississippi has won four straight and could bolster its case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament by beating Tennessee tonight. Murphy Holloway added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Rebels. Frankie Sullivan scored 15 for Auburn, which has lost four of five.

Georgia 71, Mississippi State 61: Gerald Robinson scored 23 points and Georgia (15-16) pulled off the upset over Mississippi State (21-11), which got within 60-57 with 3:44 left but couldn't complete the rally.

who can beat Kentucky? Three years into Calipari's tenure, UK is again the unquestioned king of the SEC.

The No. 1-ranked Wildcats have a swagger reminiscent of the 1990s, when they won seven of eight SEC tournament championships.

"It's another time to get a championship," guard Darius Miller said. "Hopefully we can continue the run and hopefully it can give us a little experience for the (NCAA) Tournament."

Kentucky has a 30-1 record that includes the first 16-0 SEC slate for any program since the Wildcats accomplished the feat in 2003. They haven't lost in nearly three months.

"They just seem consumed about winning, and that is it," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Whatever they've got to do to win, regardless of who scores and who plays the minutes … They are going after something that's bigger than their own individual statistics."

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Round 1 Quarterfinals Semifinals Final Semifinals Quarterfinals Round 1
Thursday today Saturday Sunday Saturday today Thursday
1 Kentucky 2 Tennessee
8 LSU 70 1, Ch. 38 7:30, Ch. 38 7 Ole Miss 68
8 LSU 7 Ole Miss
9 Ark. 54 10 Auburn 54
1, Ch. 28 1, Ch. 28 3:30, Ch. 28
5 'Bama 63 6 Miss. St. 61
5 Alabama 11 Georgia Late
12 S.C. 57 3:30, Ch. 38 10, Ch. 38 11 Georgia 71
4 Florida 3 Vanderbilt

Alabama Crimson Tide advances to rematch with Florida Gators in SEC tournament 03/08/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 9, 2012 12:21am]
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