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LSU to face Florida in SEC tournament

NASHVILLE — The first time Florida and LSU met this season, the Tigers were in the midst of a four-game losing streak and the Gators won by 22 points. Now LSU has won three of its past four.

LSU's 68-63 win over Georgia on Thursday afternoon sets up a rematch between the Gators and Tigers at 1 p.m. today in the SEC tournament quarterfinals. This time, LSU coach Johnny Jones believes a more competitive game is possible.

"I think we're a better basketball team than the first time that we played them early on," Jones said. "But I think at the same time, as well as Florida played, I think they've continued to improve as well. So I think it will be a great challenge for us and one we're excited and looking forward to."

LSU (19-11) led by 21 early in the second half on a jumper by Shavon Coleman with 16:10 remaining. But Georgia (15-17) chipped away, using a 12-3 run to pull within 66-63 with 28.5 seconds remaining. Andre Stringer hit two free throws to help LSU seal the win. Georgia sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's 25-footer missed and LSU held on. Caldwell-Pope had 25 of his career-high 32 points in the second half. Coleman scored 24.

"The last time we played Florida we were still trying to find out who we were as a team," LSU forward Johnny O'Bryant III said. "We've done a lot better since then. It's going to be a great game. Can't wait to play."

Tennessee 69, miss. st. 53: Vols players and coaches didn't have any pregame discussions about avoiding the fate that befell them at last year's conference tournament.

There was no need.

"We didn't have to say it," guard Jordan McRae said after fifth-seeded Tennessee's win over No. 13 seed Mississippi State. "Everybody really knows what we have to do. I think we did a good job of really coming out there and playing hard."

McRae scored 17 as the Vols (20-11) won for the ninth time in their past 10 games. Last season Tennessee won eight of its last nine regular-season games then lost 77-72 to Mississippi in its first SEC tournament game. That led to an NIT appearance, ending a string of six NCAA Tournament invitations.

The Vols advanced to a quarterfinal game today against No. 4 seed Alabama (19-11) in a matchup of bubble teams.

Vandy 75, Arkansas 72: Kedren Johnson hit all four of his free throws in the final 19.8 seconds, and the No. 10 seed Commodores (15-16) upset the No. 7 seed Razorbacks (19-13) in their first chance at defending their conference tournament championship. Vanderbilt lost the top six players off that title team with three now in the NBA. Its plays No. 2 seed Kentucky in the quarterfinals tonight in a rematch of last year's final. Arkansas lost for the 12th time in 13 games away from Fayetteville, including three times on neutral courts.

Missouri 62, Texas A&M 50: Alex Oriakhi scored 13 to lead four players in double figures for the No. 6 seeded Tigers. The No. 11 seed Aggies (18-15) won the teams' regular-season matchup 70-68 at home. Missouri (23-9) faces No. 3 Mississippi in today's quarterfinal. Oriaki scored three during an 8-0 second-half run that put the Tigers up 45-26. And the lead grew to as many as 21.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

LSU to face Florida in SEC tournament 03/14/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 1:32am]

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