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Kentucky storms back to reach SEC tourney final

Victoria Dunlap, driving on Mississippi State’s Diamber Johnson in the second half, had 22 points for Kentucky.

Associated Press

Victoria Dunlap, driving on Mississippi State’s Diamber Johnson in the second half, had 22 points for Kentucky.

DULUTH, Ga. — Victoria Dunlap believes No. 19 Kentucky proved how good it is by rallying from a 14-point second-half deficit to beat Mississippi State in the SEC tournament.

Now comes an even bigger challenge: No. 4-ranked Tennessee in today's title game.

Second-seeded Kentucky advanced to its first SEC final in 28 years by beating Mississippi State 76-65 Saturday night. The Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 52-30 in the second half.

"I think we just showed a lot of people in the league that we're a good basketball team," said Dunlap, who had 22 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and five steals.

Coach Matthew Mitchell led an impromptu pep rally on the court in front of Kentucky fans after the win. There was little time to celebrate before the focus shifted to Tennessee.

"It's going to be a very tough task, but it should be tough in the finals of the Southeastern Conference championship," Mitchell said. "I think this is one of the greatest tournaments in the world."

A'dia Mathies had 25 points, 18 in the second half, as Kentucky (25-6) rallied from a 40-26 deficit early in the second half.

"Credit our players," Mitchell said. "It was incredible turnaround of attitude, great energy, great effort. I'm really proud that they found a way to win that basketball game and dug themselves out of a big hole."

In the other semifinal, Alyssia Brewer had 15 points for the top-seeded Vols (29-2), who rolled to a 68-49 victory over Vanderbilt.

BIG EAST TOURNAMENT: Erica Williamson led five players in double figures with 16 points as No. 6 Notre Dame routed Louisville 89-52 in the second round in Hartford, Conn. The fifth-seeded Irish (26-4) face No. 16 St. John's, the No. 4 seed, in the quarterfinals today. … Erica Morrow had 24 points to lead ninth-seeded Syracuse past Providence 76-71. The Orange (22-9) take on top-ranked Connecticut in the quarterfinals. … Katherine Harry had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead seventh-seeded DePaul (21-10) past Marquette 64-54. The Blue Demons face second-seeded West Virginia. … Brittany Ray had 21 points as No. 6 seed Rutgers (18-13) routed Cincinnati 70-44. The Scarlet Knights face No. 12 and third-seeded Georgetown.

ACC TOURNAMENT: Jasmine Thomas had all 10 of her points in the second half, and No. 9 and top-seeded Duke (26-5) pulled away late to beat Georgia Tech 67-55 in a semifinal in Greensboro, N.C. … Nikitta Gartrell had a career-high 25 points to help sixth-seeded North Carolina State (20-12) rally past Boston College 63-57.

BIG TEN TOURNAMENT: Kachine Alexander had 14 points and 10 rebounds, helping third-seeded Iowa (19-12) beat No. 25 Michigan State 59-54 in a semifinal in Indianapolis. … Samantha Prahalis had 29 points and Jantel Lavender added 27 to help No. 10 and top-seeded Ohio State (29-4) beat Wisconsin 82-73.

SSC TOURNAMENT: Fifth-seeded Lynn finished with a 7-0 run to upset top-seeded Tampa 65-58 in Fort Lauderdale in the semifinals of the Sunshine State Conference tournament. The Knights face No. 3 seed Barry, a 62-60 overtime winner over No. 2 seed Rollins, in the conference championship at 3:30 p.m. today.

TOURNAMENT FINALS: TaRonda Wiles hit a baseline jumper in the final seconds, and top-seeded East Tennessee State survived North Florida's upset bid with a 63-62 victory in the Atlantic Sun title game in Macon, Ga. … Nicole Jamen had 19 points for third-seeded Austin Peay, which beat Eastern Illinois 69-60 for the Ohio Valley Conference championship in Nashville.

Top 25

NO. 2 STANFORD 63, CAL 48: Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored 22 and grabbed 14 rebounds to carry the visiting Cardinal (28-1, 18-0), which wrapped up its first unbeaten Pac-10 season since 2002.

NO. 3 NEBRASKA 82, KANSAS ST. 72: Kelsey Griffin's career-high 36 points helped spark a second-half rally, and the visiting Huskers (29-0, 16-0) became the first Big 12 team to finish an unbeaten regular season.

NO. 5 XAVIER 61, RICHMOND 52: Amber Harris had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Musketeers (25-3) to their 16th straight victory in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament in Upper Marlboro, Md.

NO. 13 IOWA ST. 59, COLORADO 41: Kelsey Bolte had 19 points for the host Cyclones (23-6, 11-5), who locked up the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament.

NO. 15 TEXAS A&M 78, KANSAS 54: Danielle Adams had 18 points to lead the visiting Aggies (22-7, 10-6 Big 12).

Kentucky storms back to reach SEC tourney final 03/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 6, 2010 11:15pm]
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