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    SEC Women's Basketball Today: February 9

    women's BASkEtBALL RESULTS
    Arkansas 68, South Carolina 47
    Alabama 52, Ole Miss 47
    LSU 53, Mississippi State 49
    Florida 70, Auburn 56
    Vanderbilt 93, Tennessee 74

    Ricketts scores 16, Arkansas downs Gamecocks 68-47

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Tom Collen is finished bemoaning the four-game losing streak to open Southeastern Conference play at Arkansas.

    The Razorbacks coach is much more focused these days on Arkansas' SEC winning streak, which improved to a program-best seven games with a 68-47 win over No. 24 South Carolina on Thursday night.

    C'eira Ricketts scored 16 points and had seven rebounds and seven assists to lead Arkansas (18-5, 7-4), which hasn't lost since a 60-54 defeat at Mississippi on Jan. 12. That was the Razorbacks fourth in a row, a stretch that included three ranked teams.

    Times have certainly changed since for Arkansas -- which moved past the Gamecocks and into fourth in the SEC with the win. The school hasn't finished the regular season in the top four in the SEC since a fourth-place finish during the 1994-95 season.

    "I think it was the most important (win)," Collen said. "... Right now, we just want to keep this thing going one game at a time and see if we can't figure out how to finish in the top four. That's something we haven't talked about for a long time."

    The Razorbacks led by as many as 18 points in the first half against the Gamecocks (18-6, 7-4), during which they were 13 of 23 (57 percent) from the field. Arkansas forced South Carolina into 23 turnovers, and Ashley Daniels had 13 points and Dominique Robinson added 12.

    Ricketts, meanwhile, was everywhere while scoring in double figures for the fourth time in five games. The senior controlled the tempo from the early going, scoring 11 points in the first half. She also had two of the Razorbacks' 16 steals, raising her career total to 293 -- equaling Tracy Webb's school record set in 1987.

    "I think we have to take the mentality like `We're not going to lose, we can't lose and we've got to keep going,'" Ricketts said. "It just feels good to be on this winning streak."

    While Arkansas entered the game looking to make a statement with its third win over a ranked team, the Gamecocks were coming off their biggest win of the season -- a 64-60 win at Tennessee on Feb. 2.That was South Carolina's first win over the Lady Volunteers since 1980 and Tennessee's first home SEC loss since 2008.

    The win helped the Gamecocks enter the rankings this week, but they weren't ready to handle the success against the Razorbacks. South Carolina shot just 35 percent (17 of 48) and its turnovers led to 26 points by Arkansas -- which scored 15 straight points after Markeshia Grant opened the game with a 3-pointer for the Gamecocks.

    "What happened was we had a huge letdown," South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. "It went into our preparation the last couple of days, and when we don't prepare well, we don't usually perform well.

    "... I thought they wanted the game more than we did, and I never thought I would say that in coaching the South Carolina women's basketball team."

    Ieasia Walker scored 11 points to lead the Gamecocks, who cut Arkansas' early double-digit lead to 22-13 midway through the first half after a Tina Roy 3-pointer.

    The Razorbacks once again had an answer, scoring eight-straight points to push their lead to 31-13. Ricketts had five points during the run for Arkansas, which made no secret that South Carolina's ranking and pregame smiles provided extra motivation as it tries to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2002-03 season.

    The Razorbacks led by as many as 23 points in the second half, hoping to make a statement of their own -- much like the Gamecocks' win over Tennessee.

    "It's a big win for our program," Collen said. "South Carolina just jumped into the polls. I'm not sure why we're not getting any votes at all in the coaches' poll, that's a little frustrating to me. But maybe we'll get their attention now with this win."



    Alabama Women’s Basketball Seals First SEC win with 52-47 Victory at Ole Miss

    OXFORD, Miss. – The Alabama women’s basketball team (11-14, 1-10 SEC) picked up its first Southeastern Conference victory of the season, holding on to beat Mississippi (12-13, 2-10 SEC), 52-47, at the C.M Tad Smith Coliseum on Thursday night. The win was also the Crimson Tide’s first in Oxford since the 2002-03 season.

    “With everything that has happened this season, this game really meant a lot and showed that if we stand together, we can be successful,” said Alabama head coach Wendell Hudson. “You could tell by looking at the team that they knew we would get this done today. We learned how to play with a limited bench, only playing with seven people. This is a great win for us.”

    Junior Jessica Merritt led a balanced Alabama offensive attack with 10 points. She was followed by sophomore Khristin Lee with nine points and junior Meghan Perkins and sophomores  Shafontaye Myers and Jasmine Robinson, who had eight points apiece. Both Perkins and junior Kyra Crosby had a team-leading seven rebounds.

    The Rebels wasted no time scoring as sophomore Valencia McFarland grabbed the opening tip and drove straight to the hoop to put Mississippi on top quickly. From there, Alabama would go on an 11-0 run, holding the Rebels scoreless for nearly seven minutes. Myers drained a three-pointer with 11:57 on the clock, giving Alabama its first double-digit lead of the contest. The Tide continued to distance itself from Mississippi in the half, leading the Rebels by as many as 18 points. Alabama would head into the break with a 31-15 lead.

    In the second half, the Tide remained in front by double-digits until the 8:51 mark when a jumper by freshman Danielle McCray put Mississippi within eight. The Rebels would soon take the lead, 42-40, behind the efforts of a 19-0 run. Alabama would go on to score six consecutive points, capped off by a fast break layup off the steal from Lee, to put the Tide in front 48-42 with 2:30 to play. Alabama would stay strong on defense, allowing Mississippi to score just two more baskets.

    For the game, the Tide out-rebounded the Rebels 48-40, which included 25 offensive boards for Alabama. The Tide had a season-high 16 steals in the win.

    Next up, Alabama hosts LSU on Sunday, February 12, at 1 p.m. CT. The game will serve as the Tide’s annual Power of Pink event, helping to raise awareness for breast cancer.



    Barrett Scores Final 10 Points as LSU Earns 400th Win at PMAC, 53-49 Over Mississippi State

    BATON ROUGE – All-America candidate LaSondra Barrett scored a game-high 17 points -- including LSU’s last 10 points of the game -- to lift the Lady Tiger basketball team to its 400th all-time Maravich Center victory by a score of 53-49 over Mississippi State on Thursday night.

    LSU (16-8, 6-5 SEC) swept the season series and won its fifth straight game over the Lady Bulldogs. The Lady Tigers are now 400-109 all-time in the building named after the legendary Pistol “Pete” Maravich. After coming off a signature win over No. 5 Kentucky, LSU looked sluggish at times but managed to make plays down the stretch and close out a three-game homestand with a solid defensive effort.

    Mississippi State (13-11, 3-8) dropped its fifth consecutive game and fell to 1-21 all-time in Baton Rouge. After shooting 42.3 percent in the first half, LSU cooled the Lady Bulldogs off to 29.2 percent in the second stanza, finishing at 36 percent for the game.

    “We knew this was going to be a battle,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “They’re a well-coached team, and they get after you defensively. Obviously we did what we needed to do on the defensive end, but I was very proud of this group for their late game play and coming away with the victory.”

    Barrett scored 13 points in the second half and displayed tremendous poise down the stretch. The Jackson, Miss., native was 11-of-13 from the free throw line, moving her into a tie for fourth place in LSU career free throws made with 420. Tonight, she tied Julie Gross, who made 420 from 1976-80. Barrett added seven rebounds and surpassed Seimone Augustus for 12th in LSU career rebounds with 731.

    “She (Barrett) was able to convert on some plays for us, but when you’re going strong to the basket and you’re commanding that type of attention, she just used her power game,” said Caldwell. “That’s the great thing about Barrett, she’s so versatile. She can play around the perimeter, but then if we need to bring her inside, we’re able to do that as well.”

    Adrienne Webb reached double figures for the fourth straight game with 10 points. Jeanne Kenney added eight points, dished out four assists and collected three steals.

    MSU was led by Diamber Johnson, who finished with 15 points and delivered 10 points in a first half that ended with LSU up 28-25. The Lady Tigers trailed 39-37 when Courtney Jones drained two free throws to tie the game with 8:29 left on the clock. Barrett’s layup with 6:18 to go broke the tie and LSU would not relinquish the lead despite a frantic final minute.

    Barrett scored LSU’s final 10 points from the 4:22 mark on. Her layup and free throw following a foul with 2:03 remaining put the Lady Tigers ahead by six, but two free throws by Johnson and a jumper by Martha Alwal made things interesting. LSU led 49-48 with 35 seconds left in the game.

    Barrett made two free throws on the other end and Johnson connected for 1-of-2 for MSU with eight seconds remaining. Barrett then confidently swished two free throws with four seconds on the clock to finish off the 53-49 score.

    LSU shot 41.9 percent from the floor and outscored Mississippi State’s bench, 27-18. The Lady Tigers, who entered Thursday’s play second in the SEC in free throw shooting, shot a solid 15-of-19 from the line.

    LSU departs for Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday in preparation for a road game at Alabama at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) and picked up by Cox Sports Television (CST). It will also be streamed online at ESPN3.com.



    Florida's Defense Leads to Third Consecutive Win, Gators Defeat Auburn, 70-56

    WATCH GAME HIGHLIGHTS HERE

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Senior Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) led the Gators in scoring for the second straight game with 17 points and Florida earned a 70-56 victory over Auburn Thursday evening at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

    The victory was the third consecutive for the Gators (16-8, 6-5 Southeastern Conference), who used strong defense throughout and forced 22 Auburn turnovers that led to 26 points. Florida was also able to get out in transition and score 13 fast-break points, compared to just two for the Tigers (11-14, 3-9 SEC).

    The Gators and Tigers exchange buckets for the majority of the first half, when there were five lead changes and six tied scores, with the lead getting no larger than five for either team.

    With Auburn holding a 29-27 lead with 2:26 remaining in the opening period, Florida went on a 7-2 run to end the half and headed into the locker room with a 36-31 lead.

    The backcourt of Deana Allen (Houma, La.), Bartley and Jaterra Bonds (Jacksonville, Fla.) led the way for the Gators during the first 20 minutes, when the trio combined for 27 first-half points. Allen finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor in addition to three assists and three steals in 23 minutes of action. Bonds tallied 12 points, converting 4-of-5 shots, with a team-high four assists, as the Gators dished 18 in the game.

    "Tonight our guards took the torch and really set the tone - the way we played defense the last two minutes of the first half really set the tone for the game," UF coach Amanda Butler said. "It was a very good win. I didn't think that we played our best, but I think it's a good indication when you feel that way. We did a good job of establishing ourselves in the paint with the dribble - and that makes us tough to prepare for."

    Bonds started that final spurt with an acrobatic layup and drew contact and Allen followed with a steal on the other end of the floor and dished to Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) for the layin and forced an Auburn timeout. Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) then stole the ball from Parrisha Simmons and Florida took advantage as Bonds nailed a three-pointer on another assist from Allen and the Gators held a 43-29 lead with 1:04 remaining.

    Blanche Alverson, who finished with a game-high 19 points, converted a jumper to halt Florida's run, but Ndidi Madu (Antioch, Tenn.) found George under the basket and completed the high-low game that ended the first half's scoring.

    The Gators continued their momentum at the start of the second half by scoring the first seven points and pushing their lead to 15 points, 43-31, with 18:04 remaining in the game.

    "I thought they took the momentum," Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. "The last two minutes of the first half really gave them momentum. Once they went on that 10-0 run we couldn't really quite get back from it."

    Florida's defensive pressure kept the Tigers from converting a field goal for more than three and a half minutes, a span that covered the end of the first half and into the second. The Gators continued to get offensive contributions from every position, as nine out of the 10 Gators who suited up scored and helped maintain a double-digit lead for the remainder of the contest.

    Auburn cut Florida's lead to 11 points with 12:06 remaining, but freshman Andrea Vilaró Aragonés (Barcelona, Spain) answered with a three-pointer, before Tiger rookie Hasina Muhammad sank a layup and kept the Gator lead at 12 points, 53-41, with 11:11 to play.

    That's when Florida mounted a 10-4 spurt for a 63-45 advantage and took an 18-point lead, its largest of the game, with 5:25 remaining and Auburn never recovered.

    Jones capped that final run with a free throw, marking her 900th career point at UF, as her overall career total swelled to 1,319.

    A three-point basket from the wing by Allen with 1:25 remaining in the game extended the lead to 68-51 and ended any hopes for an Auburn comeback. With Bonds converting two free throws from the line with 45 seconds remaining in the game, the Gators reached the 70-point mark for the fourth straight game.

    George collected a team-high eight rebounds, helping Florida to a 36-35 rebounding edge. The Gators also shot a steady 44.8 percent (26-58) for the game, including an 8-of-17 effort from the three-point arc.

    Auburn shot 48 percent (12-25) in the first half and finished with a 39.2 percent clip.

    The Gators begin a two-game road trip that begins on Sunday, Feb. 12, when the team travels to Columbia, S.C., to play the 24th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (18-6, 7-4 SEC), with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m.

    The contest will air live on ESPN2, while streaming video on www.ESPN3.com.



    Vanderbilt upsets No. 11 Tennessee 93-79

    WATCH GAME HIGHLIGHTS HERE

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tiffany Clarke scored 23 points, and the Vanderbilt Commodores upset No. 11 Tennessee 93-79 on Thursday night for their fifth straight win overall and a very rare victory over their in-state rival.

    The Commodores (19-5, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) got their first win against Tennessee since Jan. 11, 2009, by scoring their most points ever against their rival. For coach Melanie Balcomb, it was just her second win in 23 games against Tennessee since coming to Vanderbilt.

    Tennessee (17-7, 8-3) had won 23 of the last 24 in this rivalry and seven straight. The Lady Vols, who fell out of the top 10 on Monday, now have lost two of three.

    Christina Foggie scored 22 points for Vanderbilt, and Stephanie Holzer added 19. Jasmine Lister had her first double-double with 19 points and a career-high 13 assists.

    Glory Johnson led Tennessee with 19 points before fouling out with 5:59 left. Meighan Simmons had a team-high 20 points, and Shekinna Stricklen 17.

    The Commodores outworked, outshot and simply outplayed Tennessee from start to finish. They shot 55.7 percent (39 of 70) compared to 45.9 percent (28 of 61) for Tennessee as they drove past the Lady Vols time and again for easy layups with plenty of room to hit jumpers. They also outrebounded the Lady Vols 41-27.

    The result was Vanaderbilt's highest scoring half in this series for a 42-34 halftime lead. The Commodores built that to 48-36 on a layup by Kady Schrann with 17:00 left in the second half when Tennessee finally put together its best stretch.

    Johnson hit a jumper starting a 16-4 run. Stricklen, held to two points in the first half, hit a jumper and added a 3-pointer and another jumper. Taber Spani hit a pair of free throws, then Cierra Burdick tied it up at 52 with 12:33 left.

    That was the Lady Vols' first lead since 6-5 and finally gave the fans wearing orange something to cheer. It didn't last because Vanderbilt didn't wither.

    Foggie hit back-to-back 3s putting Vanderbilt ahead to stay, and her 3-pointer with 8:43 left made it a 65-56 lead with 8:43 left. The Commodores just kept scoring from there and went up by as much as 14 down the stretch.

    Tennessee led only twice in a first half where the Lady Vols struggled and bounced off the Commodores at times. The Lady Vols took far too many jumpers, especially early that came up short. Only Johnson scoring 15 points with Simmons adding 13 kept them from being blown out early.