SEC Men's Basketball Today: December 29 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Men's Basketball Today: December 29

    LSU 69, Grambling State 37
    Tennessee 86, The Citadel 55
    Rutgers 85, Florida 83
    Vanderbilt 74, Marquette 57
    Alabama 72, Jacksonville 55

    LSU beats Grambling State 69-37

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- LSU extended its winning streak to seven games with a 69-37 victory against Grambling State on Thursday night.

    LSU has held its opponent to fewer than 60 points in all seven victories. The 37 points were the fewest allowed by LSU in a game since a 68-24 victory against Nicholls State nine seasons ago.

    Jalen Courtney came off the bench to lead LSU (10-3) in scoring with a career-high 14 points. Johnny O'Bryant was the only other LSU player in double figures with ten points. Quincy Roberts was the top scorer for Grambling State (0-10) with 19 points.

    LSU held Grambling State to one field goal in the first 7 minutes of the second half. Getting 11 points from its bench players, LSU outscored Grambling State 13-4 to go on top by 22 points at 46-24. Grambling State got no closer than 20 points the rest of the game.

    Tennessee cruises to 86-55 win against The Citadel

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Yemi Makanjuola had a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds off the bench to help Tennessee keep The Citadel at bay in an 86-55 victory Thursday night.

    Seven of Makanjuola's rebounds came on the offensive end, and the big man turned those boards into points. He scored all 18 of his points consecutively over an 8:43 stretch, starting when he put back a missed free throw by Renaldo Woolridge to give the Volunteers a 62-38 lead with 10:48 to play.

    By the time he hit his final points, tipping in a missed shot by Jordan McRae for a 78-48 lead with 2:31 left, Makanjuola had well surpassed his previous career highs of six points and seven rebounds, both set in the Vols' win against Chaminade earlier in the season.

    While Makanjuola did his work with a comfortable lead, it was Skylar McBee's 12 points in the first half that helped Tennessee pull away for its biggest margin of victory this season. As Tennessee's post players drew the attention of The Citadel's zone defense, McBee and Cameron Tatum were left open on the perimeter.

    Tennessee held a 16-14 lead, when a pair of 3s by McBee launched a 15-3 run, and Tatum hit another trey with 4:31 before halftime that pushed the margin to 31-17. McBee finished the half 4 of 5 from 3-point range but did not score again in the second half.

    Trae Golden and Woolridge each scored 10 points for the Vols, who shot 55.9 percent (33 of 59) and cleared their bench by the end of the game. They outscored The Citadel 42-22 in the paint and held a 40-27 rebounding edge.

    Mike Groselle, who entered the game averaging 15.8 points, led The Citadel (2-10) with 21 points.

    The Bulldogs hit 39.3 percent (22 of 56) in their eighth straight loss.

    The 31-point victory was a much-needed shot of confidence for a Tennessee team that lost four straight between Nov. 28 and Dec. 14 and will play five games in January against teams currently ranked among the top 15 in the nation. Since then, the Vols had to come from behind to earn narrow wins against UNC Asheville and East Tennessee State.

    Carter scores 31 as Rutgers stuns No. 10 Florida

    PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Freshman Eli Carter scored a career-high 31 points and hit the go-ahead basket in the second overtime as Rutgers rallied to stun No. 10 Florida 85-83 on Thursday night.

    The Scarlet Knights (8-5) came back from a seven-point deficit late in regulation and Carter hit a late 3-pointer in the first overtime to put the Scarlet Knights in position for their biggest win since knocking off No. 9 Villanova at home last season.

    Erving Walker had a chance to tie the game for the Gators (11-2) in the final seconds, but his off-balance attempt from the foul line hit off the rim.

    Scarlet Knights fans stormed the court to celebrate in a game billed as the return of former Rutgers star and current Gator Mike Rosario to Piscataway.

    Dane Miller added 16 points, Myles Mack had 14 and Jerome Seagears 13 for Rutgers, which won its fourth straight game and snapped the Gators' five-game winning streak.

    Kenny Boynton matched his season high with 26 points for Florida. Bradley Beal added 15 and Erik Murphy had 14 points and eight rebounds for Florida, which was playing its first game at the loud and intimidating Rutgers Athletic Center.

    Carter, whose previous high was 21 points, put the Scarlet Knights ahead for good at 80-78 with a shot in the lane. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw.

    After Beal missed a drive on the left side and Boynton missed a 3-point attempt, Carter scored inside again for an 82-78 edge.

    Beal cut the Gators' deficit to a point on a 3-pointer with 1:18 to go, but Mack came right back with a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left for an 85-81 lead.

    A floater by Walker with 44.8 seconds left cut the margin to a basket and Florida got a final shot when Rutgers was called for a shot clock violation with 8.7 seconds left.

    Rutgers knocked the ball out of bounds in the backcourt with 4.3 seconds left and Walker could not connect after taking the inbound pass and driving to the foul line for his final shot.

    Rutgers forced the first overtime by rallying from a 7-point deficit in the final 2:48 of regulation and the came from three points down in the first overtime with Carter tying the game at 76 with a 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play.

    Florida turned the ball over in the waning seconds and Mack's 40-footer at the buzzer wasn't close.

    The Scarlet Knights trailed 64-57 late in regulation before scoring the final seven points, aided by two Gators turnovers. Mack started the comeback with a 3-pointer, Carter scored in the lane and Miller tied the game with 45.7 seconds to go with a layup.

    After Walker's drive down the lane with about 15 seconds left hit nothing, the Scarlet Knights blew a chance to win. Mack seemed to lose track of time and his off-balance shot never had a chance.

    Florida had seemingly taken command when Boynton scored on a fast break after Murphy blocked a shot with Rutgers up 55-54. Then Boynton came back on the next possession to hit a 3-pointer for a 59-55 lead. The lead eventually grew to 64-57 on a three-point play by Boynton with 2:48 to play.

    Rosario averaged 16.4 points in his first two seasons with the Scarlet Knights before transferring to Florida. He sat out last season and has been coming off the bench for the Gators. He scored five points in 14 minutes in his return and he was booed every time he touched the ball or cheered every time he missed a shot.

    During warm-ups there were chants of "Rosario is a bum" and "Jersey hates you."

    The only other cheers he got were when he missed a shot or when he was called along with Miller for a double technical foul with 54.7 second left in the half.

    Vanderbilt beats No. 14 Marquette 74-57

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Jeffery Taylor scored 19 points to help Vanderbilt steamroll No. 14 Marquette 74-57 on Thursday night.

    John Jenkins added 14 points, and Lance Goulbourne had 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Commodores (9-4), who beat a ranked team for the first time this season.

    Jae Crowder scored 16 points on 4-of-13 shooting for the Golden Eagles (11-2), who shot a season-low 32.2 percent from the field.

    Vanderbilt, considered a top-10 team at the beginning of the season, came in unranked after a Dec. 17 loss to Indiana State. The Commodores came in with a 0-2 mark against ranked teams this season, with losses to Xavier and Louisville -- both in overtime.

    But the Commodores looked worthy of their preseason ranking, smothering the Golden Eagles on defense and doing just about anything they wanted on the other end.

    Marquette has lost two of its past three after starting the season 10-0. The Golden Eagles dropped their first game this season at LSU on Dec. 19. Marquette shot 36.2 percent in that game, its previous season low. The Golden Eagles rebounded with a victory over in-city rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee a week ago.

    But the Golden Eagles seemed a step slow on both ends of the floor Thursday, no more so than on one defensive play early in the second half.

    With Vanderbilt inbounding the ball from the baseline, Marquette somehow left Jenkins -- Vanderbilt's leading scorer and best 3-point shooter -- wide open from long range. He nailed the 3 to give the Commodores a commanding 55-32 lead with an agonizing 14:49 left in the game.

    Things went poorly from the start for the Golden Eagles, who shot 1 for 16 from the field to start the game.

    Marquette tried to get the ball to forward Jae Crowder down low early on, but it wasn't working with several Vanderbilt defenders collapsing on him every time he touched the ball. Crowder started the game 0 for 7.

    Vanderbilt welcomed back center Festus Ezeli, who had played in only two games this season while recovering from a right knee sprain. Ezeli entered the game with 16:46 left in the first half, wearing a bulky brace on his knee.

    It certainly didn't seem to slow down the Commodores' big man.

    Vanderbilt took a 29-6 lead when Ezeli missed a free throw, a long rebound came out to Vanderbilt's Kedren Johnson and he fed the ball to Jenkins, who drilled a 3-pointer -- then wildly pumped his fist in the air in celebration.

    But the party was just getting started for the Commodores, as Jeffery Taylor stole the ball from Junior Cadougan and coasted to the other end for an emphatic slam dunk that put Vanderbilt up 31-6 with 8:44 left in the first half.

    Brace and all, Ezeli showed he still could leap, slamming home an alley-oop pass from Jenkins for a 35-8 lead with 7:15 left.

    Marquette then went on a short 8-2 run, but missed an opportunity to really cut into Vanderbilt's lead. The Golden Eagles came up with stops on four straight Commodores possessions, but came away with only a pair of free throws by Crowder.

    Vanderbilt took a 44-22 lead into halftime as Marquette shot 21.2 percent in the first half.

    Alabama Defeats Jacksonville 72-55

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama men’s basketball team improved to 10-3 on the season with a 72-55 win over the Jacksonville Dolphins Thursday night at Coleman Coliseum.

    Sophomore guard Trevor Releford came away with 18 points to lead all scorers, to go with four assists and four steals. Junior forward Tony Mitchell scored 17 points while freshman guard Trevor Lacey added 11 points for the Crimson Tide. Freshman guard Levi Randolph notched a team-high eight rebounds in addition to six points and three assists. The Tide played without senior forward JaMychal Green for the second consecutive game due to a shoulder injury.

    “I was really pleased with how we came out in the second half defensively and really set the tone,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. “When you look at the numbers, they shot 25 percent in the second half, went one-for-seven from the three-point line and we only turned the ball over twice in the second half, giving ourselves an opportunity every time on the offensive end. Being disruptive on the defensive end like we were allowed us to build the lead.”

    The Tide limited Jacksonville to just 18 second half points on 6-of-24 (25 percent) shooting, including just 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from beyond the three-point arc.  Alabama held the Dolphins scoreless for nearly nine minutes to open the second half, building a 15-point lead in the process, after allowing its second-highest first half point total (37) of the year.

    The Tide shot a crisp 52.1 percent (25-of-48) from the field for the game to complement its stout defensive effort, outscoring Jacksonville by a 2:1 ratio on points off turnovers (20 to 10), while connecting on 40 percent of its three-point attempts.

    “Our coaches told us at halftime to play with more energy and not let them outplay us,” Releford said. “I think that we took it to heart. We came out different in the second half.”

    Ten ties and eleven lead changes told the story of the first half. Neither team led by more than four points until back-to-back-to-back three-pointers by Mitchell and Releford keyed a quick 9-0 Alabama spurt at the 5:05 mark of the first half that gave the Tide a 34-28 lead. From there, Alabama would ultimately settle on a 42-37 advantage at intermission.

    Coming out of the break, Alabama held the Dolphins scoreless over the first 8:36 of the second half as part of a 10-0 run that pushed UA to a 15-point advantage.

    From there, Alabama would maintain a lead of no less than 14 points over the game’s final ten minutes, building the advantage to as many as 21 points en route to a 17-point victory.

    Up next, Alabama plays Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga. Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012 at 8 p.m.