SEC Men's Basketball Today: December 31 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Men's Basketball Today: December 31

    Kentucky 69, Louisville 62
    South Carolina 72, South Carolina Upstate 66
    Florida 90, Yale 70
    Mississippi State 66, Utah State 64

    Freshmen Lift No. 3 Kentucky Past No. 4 Louisville, 69-62

    LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had season-highs with 24 points and 19 rebounds to lead No. 3 Kentucky in a rough-and-tumble 69-62 victory over No. 4 Louisville on Saturday to extend the nation's longest home winning streak.

    Fellow freshman Anthony Davis added 18 points, all in the second half, for the Wildcats (13-1) in their annual in-state rivalry game that at times looked more like a free throw shooting contest with 52 fouls.

    The Cardinals (12-2) only led at 2-0, but gave Kentucky all it could handle after rallying from an early 15-point deficit before tying it in the second half thanks to Russ Smith, who had a career-high 30 points.

    But Kidd-Gilchrist's hustle and Davis' emergence proved to be the difference with rapper Jay-Z, actress Ashley Judd and nearly a dozen NBA scouts on hand.

    Kentucky has won 44 straight at home, including 43 in a row at Rupp Arena, for the nation's longest streak ahead of Duke's 43. This one will be remembered after the teams came in with the highest combined ranking in history.

    With the game tied at 40 early in the second half, Louisville had a chance to take its second lead but Peyton Siva never hit the rim on an 18-foot jumper.

    Kentucky went on a 7-0 run from there, with Kidd-Gilchrist hitting one of two free throws and making a layup on another trip before Davis got to the line and made four free throws over two possessions to make it 47-40.

    Davis blocked Chris Smith on one end, then cleaned up Kentucky's fast break on the other to give the Wildcats a 49-42 lead. His alley-oop slam from Doron Lamb made it 56-48 with 6:40 left.

    The battles kept going after the whistle with Davis and Rakeem Buckles tangled up on an out-of-bounds play and Davis pleading for a foul.

    On another one, Davis went flying into the crowd trying to make a save and landed on an older woman in the front row. Kidd-Gilchrist came over, screaming, "A.D.! A.D.!" with a smile on his face as he pulled his teammate back toward the court.

    Kidd-Gilchrist's three-point play with 3:41 left gave the Wildcats a 61-50 lead, its first beyond double digits since the first half, and Kentucky was never seriously threatened for its third straight win in the series.

    Gorgui Dieng, who entered the second half with one foul, picked up three in a span of 2:20 to head to the bench with 16:08 left, but seconds later, Kentucky coach John Calipari picked up a technical foul for his displeasure with the officiating.

    Trailing 40-36, Smith hit a 3-pointer and was fouled by Kidd-Gilchrist. He converted it to tie the game with 15:21 left, but Louisville never got over the hump after also rallying from an 11-point deficit before losing against No. 12 Georgetown for its first loss on Wednesday.

    Louisville freshman Chane Behanan was the first player to lose his cool in this emotionally-charged matchup of schools separated by 78 miles.

    Behanan, recruited by both schools, had already picked up an early foul when he was called for a charge and assessed a technical for his reaction with 16:16 left in the first half.

    Louisville opened with a 2-0 lead, but Darius Miller answered with a 3-pointer and Kidd-Gilchrist was the only Wildcat to make a field goal over the next 13:45 as Kentucky feasted at the foul line to build a 31-16 lead.

    The only adversity early came when Davis crashed into Russ Smith to draw his second foul and then bowled into associate head coach Richard Pitino, son of coach Rick Pitino, on the Louisville bench midway through the first half.

    Trailing by 15 points, Louisville's two Smiths mounted a 13-0 run.

    Chris and Russ Smith, who aren't related, scored five points apiece in the spurt that cut it to 31-29 with 2:51 left. Louisville cut it to 34-33 exactly a minute later after a basket by Russ Smith, but Kyle Wiltjer's layup gave Kentucky a 36-33 lead at the half.

    Louisville would tie it before 5 minutes passed in the second half, but never could mount a push to take control in one of the most hyped games since the 1983-84 season opener.

    In that game, No. 2 Kentucky won over No. 6 Louisville, which marked the start of the annual matchup between the schools following the Cardinals' 1983 NCAA tournament win in overtime over the Wildcats in the regional finals.

    Cooke lifts South Carolina over SC Upstate 72-66

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Malik Cooke scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as South Carolina rallied past South Carolina Upstate 72-66 on Saturday. It was the Gamecocks' third consecutive win and fifth in the past six games.

    South Carolina (7-6) moved above .500 for the first time since starting the season with a 75-50 win over Western Carolina. Not that this victory came easy.

    The Gamecocks lost a 12-point lead and trailed SC Upstate (8-6) 47-46 on Ricardo Glenn's layup with 13:02 to go. But Cooke answered with two foul shots and South Carolina did not trail again.

    Glenn's foul shot drew the Spartans within 68-66 with 45 seconds to go. But again it was Cooke who pulled the Gamecocks out of the fire the next time down the court, tipping back a missed shot to extend the margin with 31 seconds left.

    Torrey Craig led SC Upstate with 20 points.

    Brenton Williams had 11 points and RJ Slawson 10 for South Carolina.

    The Gamecocks had been on a roll the past month since a Dec. 1 loss to Providence dropped them to 2-5. They came into Saturday's game having won four of five -- the lone loss was 74-66 to No. 2 Ohio State on Dec. 17 -- and with an improved offensive flow thanks to two-sport sophomore Bruce Ellington, who was back after finishing the football regular season.

    Ellington had his best showing of the season last Wednesday night with 17 points in a 57-45 win over Wofford. But Ellington left for the Capital One Bowl the next day to rejoin Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks, and there was plenty of concern about whether the basketball team's flow would leave with him.

    South Carolina looked ragged early in front of a sparse crowd, with many of its fans on their way to Orlando, Fla., for Monday's bowl game with Nebraska. The Gamecocks also had to battle a scrappy Upstate group seeking its third straight win.

    Ty Greene had a high-arcing 3-pointer and another basket to put the Spartans up 8-6. SC Upstate was down just 16-14 on Jodd Maxey's basket when the Gamecocks took off on a 21-11 run to take control. Cooke had two baskets, Eric Smith a three-point play and a jumper and Brian Richardson his first 3-pointer in five games as South Carolina led 37-25 with 4 minutes left in the period.

    Glenn's basket with 39 seconds left cut South Carolina's edge to 40-31 at the half.

    One place the Spartans had an edge was on the offensive boards, where they held a 7-4 advantage in the opening half.

    The Spartans kept up their intensity in the second half, starting it with a 16-6 run that put them in front. They tied the game a final time at 52-all on Chalmers Rogers' bucket with 9:29 to go before Brian Richardson gave the Gamecocks the lead for good with a 3-pointer.

    It looked like Cooke's three-point play with 3 minutes left, which put South Carolina ahead 66-59, would seal things until Craig hit a 3 and Jodd Moxey finished a three-point play to bring the Spartans within a point, 66-65. Cooke had two more foul shots and his tip-in bucket after that.

    Cooke surpassed his previous high of 22 points, set against Tennessee last February.

    No. 10 Florida rolls to 90-70 win over Yale

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Kenny Boynton's 26 points led No. 10 Florida to a 90-70 victory over Yale on Saturday less than 40 hours after the Gators were upset at Rutgers.

    Patrick Young added 19 points and Erik Murphy had 18 for Florida (11-3), while Bradley Beal had 11.

    Greg Mangano led Yale (8-4) with 26 points and Austin Morgan added 10. Mangano's game-high 15 rebounds helped the Bulldogs to a 37-32 rebound advantage.

    Boynton, who matched his season-high in scoring, had 18 points by halftime as the Gators took a 46-35 lead. Florida held its biggest lead at 83-57 with 4:04 left.

    The Gators didn't show any signs of a hangover from its 85-83 double-overtime loss at Rutgers on Thursday.

    Boynton, who came into the game averaging 18.9 points, had a big first half making 6 of 7 shots, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

    Florida took the lead for keeps at 13-12 on a basket by Murphy after Yale started the game by making three straight 3-point shots to grab a 9-0 lead in the opening 2 minutes.

    Yale hit 9 of 14 from 3-point range in the opening half to keep the score respectable with the 6-foot-10 Mangano perfect on three tries from long distance. Mangano had 11 points and seven rebounds in the first half.

    Both teams shot well from 3-point range. Yale connected on 11 of 21 with Mangano hitting 5 of 7, while Florida was 12 of 21 with Boynton and Murphy each good on 5 of 7.

    Florida shot 53.4 percent overall to Yale's 42.9 percent.

    Both teams were coming off tough road losses Thursday night. Yale rallied from a 19-point deficit before having a six-game winning streak snapped at Wake Forest.

    The Gators blew a seven-point lead in the final 3 minutes of regulation and a three-point lead with less than 20 seconds to go in the first overtime before losing at Rutgers. All three of Florida's losses this season have come on the road, the others against Syracuse and Ohio State, the nation's Nos. 1 and 2 teams. The Gators are 8-0 at home and 3-0 at neutral sites.

    No. 15 Mississippi State beats Utah State, 66-64

    STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Rodney Hood scored 16 points, Arnett Moultrie added 15 points and No. 15 Mississippi State escaped with a 66-64 victory over Utah State on Saturday.

    Mississippi State (13-2) needed a defensive stop on its final possession to seal the win. Utah State's Danny Berger missed a 3-pointer as time expired that would have won the game.

    Renardo Sidney added 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Moultrie had 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. MSU coach Rick Stansbury said both players had a sinus infection but fought through the sickness to post good numbers.

    Utah State (8-6) had its four-game winning streak snapped. Preston Medlin led the Aggies with 15 points, Brockeith Pane added 11 points and Morgan Grim had 10.

    Mississippi State's Dee Bost had four assists to become the school's career leader, passing Derrick Zimmerman's record of 514. But Bost struggled for most of the afternoon, shooting just 1 of 10 from the field.

    Mississippi State was coming off Wednesday's 54-52 loss to No. 6 Baylor in Dallas -- a much-anticipated, emotional game that came down to the final seconds. The Bulldogs looked less enthused in front of a half-full and only partly interested Humphrey Coliseum crowd on Saturday, and their performance in the first half reflected that malaise.

    Utah State pulled ahead 15-6 midway through the first half as Mississippi State missed shots, made sloppy passes and blew defensive assignments, but the Bulldogs eventually responded with a 13-4 run that tied the game at 19. Sidney's 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining in the half gave Mississippi State a 32-29 halftime lead.

    Mississippi State could never completely shake Utah State in the second half and the Aggies pulled ahead 64-62 on Kyisean Reed's jumper with 2:42 left. But Reed missed two free throws on the next possession and Moultrie tied the game at 64 on a putback with 1:25 remaining.

    Bost made two free throws with 34 seconds remaining, giving the Bulldogs their final 66-64 advantage.