SEC Men's Basketball in the NCAA Tournament - March 16 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Men's Basketball in the NCAA Tournament - March 16

    Florida 71, Virginia 45
    Creighton 58, Alabama 57

    Beal, Prather lead Gators to 71-45 win over Cavs

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- So much for Virginia's vaunted defense shutting down Florida's up-tempo offense.

    Even on a day when the Gators couldn't find the basket with their 3-pointers, they had no trouble beating the Cavaliers 71-45 Friday in the NCAA Midwest Regional.

    Bradley Beal had 14 points and 11 rebounds, reserve Casey Prather scored a career-high 14 and Florida pulled away in the second half.

    The Gators finished the first half on a 17-4 run to shake off a slow start and get out to a 30-22 lead. They shot 70 percent in the second half and pushed their advantage to more than 20 points with 8 minutes left.

    No. 7 seed Florida (24-10), which made it to the regional finals last season, came into the game averaging a nation-leading 9.9 3-pointers a game but made only 4 of 23. The Gators were 24 of 30 from inside the arc, though.

    Mike Scott had 15 points for Virginia (22-10), which was in the tournament for the first time since 2007.

    The teams' second all-time meeting, and first since the 1992 NIT semifinals, was billed as a clash between Virginia's pack-line defense and Florida's up-tempo perimeter offense.

    Florida missed its first 13 shots from behind the arc. No matter. The Gators dominated the offensive glass, with 10 of their first 19 points coming on second chances as they seemingly knifed through Virginia's defense at will for putbacks.

    Patric Young's beauty of a tip-in on Kenny Boynton's missed jumper got the Gators within two points early -- after they fell behind 10-2 -- and back-to-back putbacks by Prather and Beal gave Florida its first lead, 19-18.

    Scottie Wilbekin finally connected for his team's first 3-pointer with 1:07 left in the half to push the advantage to 30-22. Virginia made only two field goals the last 8 minutes.

    It took a bit for the Gators to adjust to the pack-line, which essentially is a man-to-man system that starts with each Virginia player stationed along an imaginary arc about 16 feet from the basket. A defender doesn't cross the line unless his man gets the ball. When the ball is passed, the defender goes back to the pack and a different defender goes out to cover his man.

    If the ball penetrates the pack, defenders collapse on the player with the ball and work to force a turnover. That's what happened on Florida's first possession, with Young getting called for traveling as the defense collapsed on him.

    The Gators turned over the ball four times in the first 5 minutes, then just three times the rest of the half.

    Though they were 1 of 15 on 3s the first half, they made 11 of 15 inside the arc.

    Boynton, who came into the game having made 10 of his last 31 3s, was just 3 of 10 overall and 0 for 5 on 3s and finished with eight points -- half his team-leading average.

    Prather and Beal picked up the slack, as did Young, who had dunks on three of his first four field goals and finished 6 for 6.

    Things unraveled for Virginia so much in the second half that when Sammy Zeglinski made an easy pass to Scott on a two-on-one break, Scott let the ball hit his hands and go out of bounds as he approached the basket with Prather trailing a step behind him.

    Beal hit a 3 on the other end, and Florida was up 51-32. Game over.

    McDermott's 16 lift Creighton over Alabama 58-57

    GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Creighton's drought in the NCAA tournament is over.

    Doug McDermott scored 16 points and the Bluejays overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half to beat Alabama 58-57 Friday for their first tournament victory in 10 years.

    Alabama had a chance to win during the frantic final seconds, but Josh Jones blocked Trevor Releford's 3-point attempt from the top of the key as time expired.

    Releford sat on the floor after the shot looking for a foul call, but it never came.

    McDermott, the MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference and the nation's third-leading scorer at 23.2 points per game, was held scoreless for more than 14 minutes but then scored nine points down the stretch.

    He grabbed a huge rebound with 33 seconds left after teammate Greg Echenique missed the front end of a one-and-one. McDermott was fouled immediately and converted one of two shots to put the Bluejays up by three.

    Alabama answered with an inside basket from Andrew Steele to cut the lead to 58-57 and Jones missed two free throws on the other end.

    After Jones' miss, Alabama brought the ball up the court, but Creighton used its last foul before the bonus to stop the clock at 4.7 seconds. The Crimson Tide inbounded the ball but then coach Anthony Grant mysteriously called timeout with 2.4 seconds left.

    After the huddle the play went to Releford, who got the ball at the top of the key and made a move toward the basket before taking a step back to shoot the 3-pointer.

    Jones got a hand in on the shot and the ball fell well short of the basket.

    It was Creighton's first tournament victory since Terrell Taylor drilled a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in double overtime to lift the Bluejays to an upset win over Florida in 2002.

    Releford led Alabama (21-12) with 14 points and Trevor Lacey added 13.

    The game pitted two teams with contrasting styles as Creighton (29-5) came in with the seventh-highest scoring offense in the country while Alabama entered with the best defense in the Southeastern Conference.

    It was an evenly played game until Alabama began to take control late in the first half.

    The Crimson Tide held Creighton without a field goal over the final 4:55 and closed with a 10-0 run to take a 30-23 lead into the locker room. Alabama pushed its lead to 11 early in the second half, but Creighton responded with a 12-1 run to pull even.

    The Bluejays finally took the lead with 5:38 remaining when McDermott converted on an entry pass to the low post to put his team up 51-50.