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    Kentucky Headed To Championship Game

    2012 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament
    Game 9: #1 Kentucky 74, #4 Florida 71

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    New Orleans, La. -- Anthony Davis had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats held off Florida 74-71 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

    Terrence Jones added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (32-1), who've won 24 straight games.

    Doron Lamb scored 16 points and Marquis Teague added 15, with each hitting a pair of key free throws in the last 15 seconds to secure the win against a Florida team which shot 48 percent, including 11 of 22 from 3-point range.

    Erik Murphy had 24 points, on 9 of 12 shooting, and nearly lifted Florida (23-10) to the upset with nine points in the final minutes. Bradley Beal added 20 points.

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 10 points for Kentucky, which has survived two straight tight games. The Wildcats have never led either game by more than nine points to advance to Sunday's tournament final against the winner of Mississippi and Vanderbilt.

    Kentucky shot 45 percent (27 of 60) and outrebounded Florida 39-25. The Wildcats grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.

    There was also a significant disparity in free throws, with Kentucky hitting 15 of 20 and Florida going 2 for 2.

    Florida led 56-51 on Patric Young's jump hook with 10:43 to go, but the Gators' offense, so consistent to that point, suddenly lost its rhythm.

    Florida went without a field goal for more than six minutes without scoring while the Wildcats surged in front 65-56 with a 14-0 run.

    Jones hit a 3 and added a follow-up one-handed jam of Davis' missed jumper during the spurt. As his 3 swirled through the hoop, Jones turned to the boisterous and heavily pro-Kentucky crowd, made the hand signal for a 3 and held it to his face, looking through the circle formed by his thumb and index finger.

    Just when it appeared the Gators were teetering on collapse, Murphy scored seven straight points to pull Florida to 65-63.

    Davis' putback after Teague's missed free throw gave Kentucky a 68-63 lead, but Beal responded with a quick 3 from several feet behind the arc to make it 68-66 in a back-and-forth finish.

    After Jones hit a pair of free throws to push Kentucky's lead back to four, Murphy answered with a putback with 17 seconds left, keeping the pressure on the Wildcats.

    Florida shot close to 60 percent through the first 15 minutes and did not trail once until the final seconds of the first half.

    Beal hit a 3 to open the game and Murphy made two more soon after, and the Gators hit five of their first eight attempts from deep, with Beal's second putting Florida ahead 31-21.

    Beal had 12 points in the opening 20 minutes, and the Gators' outside shooting opened up the inside for Young, who had eight first half points on a layup and several short jump hooks.

    Florida led 39-32 on Walker's layup with 4:25 left in the half, but Kentucky's defense tightened up after that, not allowing the Gators another point before halftime.

    Lamb's 3 ignited an 8-0 run to close the period.

    Davis, who had only one point in the first half of Friday's victory over LSU, had a much better start against Florida, and Kentucky needed it. He made four of his first six shots for 10 points, including a 3 that gave Kentucky its first lead of the game at 40-39 15 seconds before halftime.

    Game 9 Notes – Kentucky 74, Florida 71
    Kentucky advances to semifinals Sunday at noon CST vs. Ole Miss/VU
     (Kentucky’s 37th appearance in tourney finals; 28-8 record)

    Series Notes:
        All-Time Series:  Kentucky leads the series 93-33
        Earlier this Season: Kentucky won both meetings, 78-58 in Lexington and 74-59 in Gainesville
        In SEC Tournament Games: Kentucky leads 12-3

    Game Notes:
    •    Florida came out red-hot, making 13 of the first 20 shots, including 5 of 8 three-pointers, in building a 31-21 lead.
    •    Kentucky surged back, with Anthony Davis’ three-pointer in the closing seconds giving UK a 40-39 lead at intermission.
    •    Trailing 56-51, Kentucky rallied with 14-straight points for a 65-56 lead. 
    o    For the second-straight day, Terrence Jones came to the rescue of the Cats, scoring seven of the 14 points on a pair of foul shots, a three-pointer and a rebound dunk.  Against LSU on Friday, Jones scored nine straight when UK trailed 35-30.
    o    During the UK run, Florida went scoreless for six and a half minutes.
    •    Florida came back and held UK scoreless for more than four and a half minutes, putting together a 7-0 spurt that narrowed the lead to 65-63.
    •    Kentucky got a free throw from Marquis Teague and a rebound basket by Anthony Davis (off Teague FT miss) for a 68-63 lead with 2:22 left.
    •    In the final 34 seconds, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb kept the Wildcats ahead with two foul shots each and UK held on to win.

    Florida Notes:
    •    Florida is 23-10.
    •    Florida shot 48.3 percent from the field today, including 50 percent on three-pointers.
    o    In the previous two games against UK, when Florida shot only 36.4 percent from the field (43-118) and 24.5 percent from three-point range (12-49)
    •    Florida entered the game leading the nation in three-pointers made with 9.9 per game and the Gators sank 11 today.
    •    Erik Murphy led all scorers with a career-high 24 points.  His previous high was 18 vs. Yale on Dec. 31, 2011.
    •    Bradley Beal scored 20 for Florida, his fifth 20-point game of the season.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
       
    Kentucky  Notes:
    •    Kentucky is 32-1 and has won 24 in a row.  The 24-game win streak ties for the sixth-longest in school history.
    •    Getting to the foul line was a key for Kentucky today.   UK made 15 of 20 at the charity stripe.  Meanwhile, the Wildcats fouled only eight times in the game and Florida got shot just two free throws.
    •    A day after committing 18 turnovers against LSU, UK had only six miscues today and won points off turnovers 9-2.
    •    All five starters scored in double figures for the Wildcats, paced by Doron Lamb’s 16 points and 15 each from Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague and Anthony Davis.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 10.
    •    Davis totaled 15 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and two blocked shots, his 16th double-double of the season.