ATLANTA — John Pelphrey was looking for his Arkansas team to play tough in the SEC tournament, and the Razorbacks responded in a big way Friday.
Darian Townes and Gary Ervin each scored 18 and Arkansas dominated No. 18 Vanderbilt inside, winning 81-75 to advance to the SEC tournament semifinals.
The Razorbacks rolled to a 45-24 rebounding edge and outscored the Commodores 50-20 in the paint.
"We've had a tough time at times this year, especially on the road, being tough when we need to be tough," Pelphrey said. "Tonight I thought we were."
Arkansas plays Tennessee after probably ending any question about its worthiness for the NCAA Tournament.
Townes and Sonny Weems each had five offensive rebounds. Vanderbilt had only six.
"We got beaten badly on the boards," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "We gave them way too many second chances, third chances and fourth chances. That was the difference."
No. 4 Tenn. 89, S.C. 87: Tennessee hardly looked like a No. 1 seed, and South Carolina sure didn't resemble the team that lost by 33 points to the Volunteers less than a week ago. In a stunning turnaround, the lowly Gamecocks were in position to pull off a major upset before Chris Lofton hit a 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds remaining to give the Vols a victory. While the Vols moved on, Dave Odom trudged into retirement. The South Carolina coach said in January that this would be his final season, and he walked off the court slowly, head down, after leading the Gamecocks to just one NCAA appearance in seven seasons. "I would be happier if we had won," Odom said. "But I couldn't be prouder."
Miss. State 69, Alabama 67,
OT: Jamont Gordon scored 23, and the Bulldogs survived a scary weather delay of more than an hour during overtime to beat the Crimson Tide. Mykal Riley, who led Alabama with 18 points, forced the overtime with a dramatic 3-pointer that spun around the rim and hit the backboard before falling through the net for a 59-59 tie as the buzzer sounded to end regulation.
Georgia 97, Miss. 95, OT: Dave Bliss banked in a shot with 0.4 seconds left in overtime, giving the Bulldogs a victory and perhaps ruining the Rebels' hopes of getting into the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss sent the game to overtime when David Huertas was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws, and the Rebels looked to have forced another extra period when Chris Warren sank three after a virtually identical foul with 5.5 seconds left in OT. But Georgia inbounded the ball to Corey Butler, who had fouled Warren. He drove nearly the length of the court before dumping the ball off to Bliss for an open 10-footer.