SEC Men's Basketball Today: January 7 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Men's Basketball Today: January 7

    Tennessee 67, Florida 56
    Vanderbilt 65, Auburn 35
    LSU 81, Ole Miss 55
    Kentucky 79, South Carolina 64
    Alabama 74, Georgia 59
    Arkansas 98, Mississippi State 88

    Tennessee upsets No. 13 Florida 67-56

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Kenny Hall scored a season-high 13 points as Tennessee upset No. 13 Florida 67-56 on Saturday to open the Southeastern Conference season.

    The Gators, who have lost all four of their true road games this year, came in averaging 85.4 points this season, best among SEC teams and fifth in the nation. The Volunteers held them to 35.7 percent shooting while hitting 51 percent of their own attempts.

    Josh Richardson hit a 3-pointer 41 seconds into the second half that set the tone for the Vols the rest of the way. Cameron Tatum stole the ball from Erving Walker on the next possession and ran it down the floor for a dunk to give Tennessee a 38-31 lead.

    Kenny Boynton hit a 3-pointer for the Gators at the other end. Boynton, who entered the game averaging 19.5 points, finished with 13. Erik Murphy also had 13 for Florida (12-4, 0-1) and Patric Young added 12.

    Renaldo Woolridge answered with a layup for the Vols. Tatum drew a charge by Bradley Beal and after running a bit of an offensive set drove to the basket to hit a layup to make it 42-34.

    The Vols (8-7, 1-0) expanded their lead as they hit 12 of 22 shots in the second half while the Gators hit only 8 of 27. Tennessee controlled the post in the second half and outscored Florida 32-20 in the paint.

    Smothered by defenders, Jordan McRae hit a jumper near the basket to give Tennessee a 65-49 lead with 1:57 to go, putting the game out of reach for Florida.

    Jeronne Maymon and Trae Golden each added 12 points for Tennessee, while McRae finished with 10.

    It's the first signature victory for first-year coach Cuonzo Martin, who replaced Bruce Pearl after the popular coach was fired for NCAA infractions. Pearl opened his own Tennessee career winning eight of nine games against Florida before finishing on a four-game losing streak in the series.

    Tennessee had lost to its previous three ranked opponents this season by an average 5.7 points but looked listless in a 69-51 loss at Memphis on Wednesday.

    The Gators got their customary strong performance from their starters, who are all averaging double-digit scoring this year. But Florida's reserves only managed one point, a free throw by Casey Prather.

    Though Florida entered the game with the advantage in nearly every statistical category, the two teams played to a near draw in the first half, with Tennessee entering halftime with a 33-29 lead.

    The Vols outshot the Gators 48.1 percent to 41.4 percent in the first half and had four more points in the paint. Thanks to a solid effort by McRae, who was relegated to the bench for the first time all season, the Tennessee reserves outscored Florida's 11-0 in the first half.

    Vanderbilt wins 5th straight, downs Auburn 65-35

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- John Jenkins scored 17 points and Jeffery Taylor added 16 as Vanderbilt routed Auburn 65-35 Saturday in opening Southeastern Conference play with the Commodores' fifth straight victory.

    The Commodores (11-4, 1-0) improved to 49-11 all-time in SEC openers at Memorial Gym, and they did it with one of their best shooting performances this season in the first half in opening up a 38-19 halftime lead. They hit 50 percent (12 of 24) from the floor and were even better beyond the arc hitting 9 of 16 (56.3 percent). Five different players hit at least one 3.

    Vanderbilt also showed off some defense holding Auburn to the fewest points scored this season. For Vanderbilt, it was the fewest points allowed since a 33-31 loss to Mississippi State on Jan. 30, 1982.

    Brad Tinsley added 12 points and Festus Ezeli, who has been working his way back from a sprained right knee, started just his second game this season. Ezeli grabbed eight rebounds and scored four points.

    Auburn (10-5, 0-1) now has lost four of six overall, and the Tigers have lost five straight SEC openers and eight of their last nine. Leading scorer Kenny Gabriel was held to a season-low two points, well off his 12.6-point average per game. Chris Denson led Auburn with seven.

    The Tigers shot 27.3 percent (15 of 55) for the game. Vanderbilt outrebounded the Tigers 42-34 with the Commodores' lone struggles coming at the free throw line where they shot 8 of 16 (50 percent).

    The Tigers couldn't have started off more poorly with four fouls before Varez Ward hit their first bucket with a 3 for Auburn's lone lead of the game. Ezeli answered with a pair of free throws to tie it up, and Tinsley finally hit a jumper with 17:09 left for a 5-3 lead with Vandy's first shot attempt that put the Commodores ahead to stay.

    Once the Commodores started shooting, they seemingly couldn't miss. Jenkins hit a 3 followed by Taylor's 3. Vanderbilt hit eight of its first nine shots and its first five 3s before Jenkins' first miss with 9:20 left. Even when it looked like Vanderbilt might not get a shot off on one possession with Tinsley nearly losing the ball, the senior guard grabbed it back and tossed it up for a 3 as the shot clock buzzer sounded. Taylor added another for a 30-11 lead with 7:23 left.

    Lance Goulbourne hit a 3 to put Vandy up 38-19 at halftime, then the Commodores picked up where they left off in the second half in a 14-2 run. Jenkins' long jumper put Vandy up 49-21 with 16:29 left.

    Auburn coach Tony Barbee tried to stem the scoring, taking two timeouts within the first 4 minutes of the second half. It didn't help. Vanderbilt just kept building the lead. The Tigers managed to trim the lead to 22 but got no closer. Dai-Jon Parker's 3 with 4:18 left gave Vanderbilt its biggest lead at 63-33 with the 13th 3-pointer.

    Hamilton, Warren lead LSU past Ole Miss 81-55

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren each had a double-double, and LSU defeated Ole Miss 81-55 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams Saturday.

    Hamilton had career highs with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Hamilton made nine of his 12 field goal attempts. Warren matched his season-high with 15 points and collected 11 rebounds.

    Warren replaced Johnny O'Bryant, who broke his hand Wednesday, in the starting lineup.

    Anthony Hickey added 12 points, all coming on 3-pointers, and seven assists. Andre Stringer finished with 10 points and five assists. The 26-point victory was the largest for the Tigers (11-4) against an SEC opponent since they beat Georgia 81-52 six seasons ago.

    The Rebels (10-5), who have lost four of their last five games, had no player score in double figures. Terrance Henry, who was averaging 12 points per game, scored eight. Jarvis Summers, who had a ten-point scoring average, had seven points.

    It took LSU less than six minutes to build a double-digit lead. Three baskets by Warren and a 3-pointer and three-point play by Ralston Turner sparked the Tigers in the opening four minutes. A field goal by Hamilton put LSU on top 14-3 with 15:38 remaining before halftime.

    The Tigers extended their advantage to 22 points after a 13-0 run. During that stretch, LSU got three 3-pointers -- two by Hickey and one by Jalen Courtney. Hamilton and Warren also scored baskets in that time as the Tigers moved ahead 29-7 with 8:54 left in the first half.

    LSU had a pair of 23-point leads in the final three minutes of the half. Ole Miss scored the last three points before halftime to reduce its deficit to 20 points at 44-24. The Tigers committed just one first-half turnover. The Rebels were guilty of ten turnovers which led to ten LSU points.

    Ole Miss trailed by 16 points after a Henry basket early in the second half. But, the Tigers answered with an 8-2 run. Warren made a field goal, Hamilton converted a three-point play and Stringer connected on a 3-pointer as LSU went ahead 54-32.

    Two free throws by Hamilton with 11:11 remaining in the game gave the Tigers their largest advantage of 29 points at 63-34. The Rebels came no closer than 18 points the rest of the day.

    Jones scores 20, No. 2 Kentucky rolls

    LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Terrence Jones hit his first eight shots to finish with 20 points and No. 2 Kentucky beat South Carolina 79-64 on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

    The Wildcats (15-1, 1-0) have won seven straight and came in as the preseason favorite to win the SEC for the 45th time. They used an 11-0 run to end the first half to take a comfortable lead against South Carolina.

    Freshman Anthony Davis had 12 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocked shots and two steals, while fellow freshman Marquis Teague added 17 points.

    It was the third loss this season for South Carolina (8-7, 0-1) against a team ranked No. 1 or No. 2 after previous losses to North Carolina and Ohio State.

    Damien Leonard scored 15 points as the Gamecocks' four-game winning streak ended.

    Jones is returning to form after he dislocated the pinky finger on his left, shooting, hand on Dec. 17 against Chattanooga. He missed two games after the injury and had a combined 21 points over the next three before breaking out Saturday. His only miss from the field came with 40 seconds left.

    Kentucky doubled up the Gamecocks when Jones scored on the first possession of the second half to make it 36-18 and the Wildcats took its first 20-point lead, 40-20, on a 3 by Doron Lamb as the Wildcats' overpowered the Gamecocks with their athleticism.

    While South Carolina struggled at times against Kentucky's full-court press, the Wildcats easily broke the Gamecocks' pressure and finished the play when Kidd-Gilchrist set up an alley-oop for Davis.

    The Gamecocks cut it to 62-50 on Leonard's jumper with 7:40 left, but Kentucky answered with an 8-0 run to seal it.

    South Carolina's Malik Cooke scored 11 points, while Anthony Gill and Damontre Harris had 10 apiece. Lamb had 10 points for the Wildcats.

    Kentucky has won four straight in the series since losing in Columbia when the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 two seasons ago.

    South Carolina cut it 21-17 on Gill's jumper with 5:01 left in the first, but the Gamecocks failed to hit another field goal the rest of the half as Kentucky closed on an 11-0 run to lead 34-18 at the break by dominating on both ends.

    In one sequence, Jones hit a 3 from the left wing and freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist helped force a turnover from Leonard and popped up to ask the Rupp Arena crowd for more noise.

    On the final play of the half, Teague couldn't set up a play and shook off a screen to drive into the paint, where he missed a contested layup. Davis was right there to clean up the miss, finishing with a slam and leaving the court to a standing ovation.

    Davis' seven blocks gives him 74 for the season, sixth on the school's single-season list with half a season to play.

    Bruce Ellington, the Gamecocks' two-sport star, scored a touchdown in South Carolina's 54-3 rout of Kentucky on Oct. 8, but had no such luck against Kentucky's much stiffer defense on the court. He missed his first eight shots and finished with eight points.

    The Gamecocks haven't won on the road against an opponent ranked fifth or higher since beating then-No. 3 Kentucky on March 2, 1997.

    Lacy scores 19 to lead Alabama over Georgia 74-59

    ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Freshman Trevor Lacey scored a career-high 19 points, all but two of those in the first half, in leading Alabama to a 74-59 win over Georgia on Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

    Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also had a career night for Georgia (9-6, 0-1) with 22 points.

    The Crimson Tide won their fourth straight game while snapping the Bulldogs' five-game winning streak.

    Alabama (12-3, 1-0) got 17 points from Tony Mitchell, who had a big Swainsboro, Ga., cheering section watching. Trevor Releford added 12 for the Crimson Tide.

    Lacey outdid his previous career-best of 12 points with 17 first-half points as Alabama led 38-26 at intermission.

    Caldwell-Pope led a second-half rally by Georgia, which closed to within four on Donte Williams' stuff tip of his own miss, making it 52-48 Alabama with 9:20 to play.

    But Alabama went on a 12-2 run over the next 4 minutes, capped by Mitchell's three-point play with 5:00 to go, to lead 64-50.

    "We wanted to get to the position late in the game where we were not in foul trouble and we had a chance to win," said Georgia coach Mark Fox. "And we did, but they made the plays and we didn't."

    Georgia opened the game in a zone defense, and the Tide responded by hitting six of 12 3-pointers in the first half.

    The teams traded the lead back and forth four times in the early going. Georgia's last lead came at 11-10 when Gerald Robinson beat the shot clock with a layup with 13:08 showing.

    The Crimson Tide made three straight 3-point shots in the midst of a 16-4 run that built a 26-15 lead with 6:23 remaining in the half. Lacey's acrobatic scoop and free throw put the Tide up 31-17 at the 4:00 mark.

    Caldwell-Pope followed that up by converting a four-point play, but no rally followed.

    In the second half, the Bulldogs still trailed 48-37 with 15:36 to play. But an 11-4 run closed the gap to four.

    However, the Bulldogs went nearly five minutes between baskets as Alabama ran away.

    Robinson chipped in 11 points for Georgia, while Nemanja Djurisic scored 10.

    Alabama dominated Georgia in rebounding, 35-20. The Bulldogs played their third straight game without 6-foot-7 Marcus Thornton, their leading rebounder.

    Nobles lifts Arkansas past No. 15 Mississippi State 98-88

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Julyssses Nobles had a point to prove to his home state.

    Nobles scored a career-high 24 points as Arkansas opened Southeastern Conference play with a 98-88 win over Mississippi State on Saturday night.

    Nobles, a Mississippi native, scored 15 in the first half as the Razorbacks (12-3, 1-0 SEC) forced 11 turnovers and opened a 43-37 halftime lead. The junior finished 7 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers.

    Arkansas freshman BJ Young helped open a 20-point lead and close out the Bulldogs, scoring 18 of his 24 points in the second half. Young scored 10-straight points at one point for the Razorbacks, who scored 23 points off 18 Mississippi State turnovers.

    DeVille Smith led the Bulldogs (13-3, 0-1) with 25 points, while Dee Bost added 21 and Rodney Hood 17.

    Mississippi State overcame a nine-point deficit in its last outing, a 66-64 win at home over Utah State on Dec. 31. However, the Bulldogs had no answer in the second half against an Arkansas team in search of its first signature win under first-year coach Mike Anderson.

    The Razorbacks shot 57 percent (35 of 62) and led by as many as 20 points in the second half, and they did so in the frenetic, pressing style made famous by Anderson's mentor, former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson.

    Leading the way was Nobles, one of the most unlikely suspects entering the game for the Razorbacks. The Jackson, Miss., native was averaging only 6.6 -- only five per contest over his last seven games -- and came off the bench in Arkansas' last game.

    Nobles returned to a starting role against the Bulldogs and ignited the season-high crowd of 12,200 in Bud Walton Arena in the first half. He hit three 3-pointers in the half, also connecting on all four of his free throw attempts, and his last trey of the half gave the Razorbacks a 39-29 lead.

    Young, no stranger to big performances in big games this season, had his time in the spotlight in the second half. The freshman, who scored a career-high 28 points in an earlier loss at defending national champion Connecticut, came off the bench to help the Razorbacks push their lead to 19 early in the half.

    He did so with his run of 10-straight points for Arkansas, including a pair of 3-pointers, as the Razorbacks took a 66-47 lead.

    The Bulldogs closed the lead to 11 at 79-68 after a trio of free throws by Smith, but that was as close as they would get until the closing minute.