SEC Men's Basketball Today: November 23 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Men's Basketball Today: November 23

    Ole Miss 91, Lipscomb 45
    Florida 79, Central Florida 66
    Marist 50, Vanderbilt 33
    Georgia 54, East Tennessee State 38
    Kentucky 104, LIU-Brooklyn 75
    Arizona State 83, Arkansas 68
    Alabama 59, Charleston Southern 46
    Louisville 84, Missouri 61

    Holloway, Rebels Bury Lipscomb

    Ole Miss opened the game on a 17-2 run and never looked back, beating Lipscomb 91-45 on Friday in Oxford.

    Senior Murphy Holloway paced the Rebels with a season-high 23 points in the game, including his first career three-pointer. Holloway added eight rebounds, two assists and a block.

    Nick Williams had 14 points for Ole Miss, while Reginald Buckner and Marshall Henderson each had 10.

    Ole Miss forced Lipscomb into 26 turnovers, converting those into 31 points, compared with six for Lipscomb.

    Stephen Hurt led Lipscomb with 14 points.

    Defense Rests, But Boynton/Wilbekin Backcourt Solid in Win Over UCF

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - If Florida played defense in the first half against UCF like it did in the second half, it could have put a different twist to the term “Black Friday.”

    Good thing for the seventh-ranked Gators they built a nice cushion on the undermanned yet overachieving cross-state rival Knights and eventually pulled away for a 79-66 before a Friday afternoon crowd of 10,195 at the O’Connell Center.

    “We didn’t guard anybody in the second half,” Coach Billy Donovan said.

    No one in the UF locker room was arguing. Not after UCF cut an 18-point lead to seven by scoring the first 11 points after the break on the way to shooting 57.1 percent overall, including 80 percent (8-for-10) from the 3-point line.

    “Some nights, if we don’t come out with better defensive intensity, we may not be able to fight that off,” senior guard Kenny Boynton said. “Luckily, we did tonight.”

    Boynton bounced back in a big way from the sprained left ankle suffered in Tuesday night’s win over Savannah State by scoring a season-high 24 points to go with eight rebounds. Junior guard Scottie Wilbekin came off the bench to pitch in 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes, with all those numbers personal bests.

    Junior center Patric Young had 10 points and five rebounds, while reserve forward Casey Prather, who missed the first four games recovering from a concussion, made his season debut with eight points and four rebounds.

    Some good digits, yes, but the ones in the box score that stood out to Donovan were the ones that dotted the the columns for the Knights (3-2), who had three starters play at least 38 minutes (including all 40 for forward Keith Clanton), with a fourth logging 34.

    Forward Kasey Wilson played the fewest minutes of the UCF starters with 29, but had enough in the tank to make five of six 3-point shots for 20 points, with four of his treys after intermission.

    All this against a UF defense that had been spectacular through the first four games (along with that disappearing half against Georgetown, too). The Gators started the day having allowed just 30.8 percent shooting overall and 25.9 from 3-point range.

    For Donovan, it was shades of last season when UF had the worst 3-point defense in Southeastern Conference play.

    “We’ve tried to make a focus on it, and they’ve done a good job,” Donovan said. “But I can start to see, even in practice, some slippage. There needs to be a constant rehearsal and commitment to that every single day.”

    There wasn’t Friday.

    Four of UCF’s first five field goals in the second half were bombs. The Gators answered the rally, though, with a few long shots of their own -- one from Boynton, one from Erik Murphy (9 points, 4 rebounds) -- but UF also went back inside to build back the lead. Florida outscored UCF 38-18 in the paint and 21-1 with second-chance points, out-banging the 19-5 on the offensive glass.

    Both Boynton and Wilbekin were 4-for-9 from the arc, as the Knights repeatedly went under screens (rather than over) and the Gators made them pay. The accuracy was especially encouraging for Wilbekin, a vastly underrated shooter, in just his third game since returning from a three-game suspension to start the season for violating team rules.

    “Coach told me not to be passive,” Wilbekin said. “He wanted me to come off screens and shoot it.”

    Wilbekin took 76 shots in 37 games last season. Thus far, he has 22 in three games after attempting a career-high 12 on Friday.

    “I think his first two years he had not tried to score. He’s been more of a facilitator, more of a guy who;s been a lockdown defender,” Donovan said. “But I do think Scottie is a guy you’re going to have to respect offensively because he can make shots when he’s left open.”

    Wilbekin scored 13 before halftime, so he was mostly that facilitator in the second half, as Florida eventually built a 21-point lead with just under five minutes to go before UCF made a late surge.

    It wasn't anywhere near enough for visions of another UCF upset -- ala the 57-54 shocker in Orlando early in Florida's 2010-11 Southeastern Conference championship season -- to start dancing in anyone's heads.

    “Billy has a team that can make a deep run into the tournament,” said Knights coach Donnie Jones, who served as an assistant for Donovan for 13 seasons (two at Marshall, 11 at UF). “He has so many weapons you have to match up with.”

    But Donovan left the building locked in on the weapons that weren’t matching up on the defensive side.

    Here’s betting it comes up in practice Saturday.

    Commodores Lose to Marist

    Vanderbilt suffered through a tough shooting day, hitting only 14-of-61 (23 percent) from the floor, losing to Marist 50-33 on Friday at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.

    Vanderbilt connected on 6-of-30 (20 percent) in the first half, scoring only 14 points and trailing by 13 at the break. The second half didn't get much better for the Commodores, as they hit only 8-of-31 (25.8 percent) of their shots, including 0-of-11 from three-point range.

    James Siakam led Vanderbilt (1-3) with eight points and Rod Odom had five.

    Marist was led in scoring by Isaiah Morton and Devin Price, who each scored 13.

    Bulldogs Sink Buccaneers, 54-38
    ATHENS, Ga. - The Georgia men’s basketball team used a 21-2 first half run to down the East Tennessee State Buccaneers 54-38 Friday night in Athens.
    Sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led Georgia with 13 points and seven rebounds. It’s the fifth time this season he’s led the Bulldogs in points, and second time this season that he’s led Georgia on the boards.
    “I thought that it was a very hard fought game tonight,” said head coach Mark Fox. “We have played five games in 12 days, so we have not had a lot of time to practice recently.  We now know all what we have to work on, so we have had to work on these things in our games. “
    Georgia went to the locker rooms leading 31-13 after shooting nearly 70 percent in the first half. The Bulldogs committed just two turnovers in the first half’s final 11 minutes, while the Georgia defense held ETSU to shooting 17 percent in the first frame.

    “We have a young team,” said junior forward Donte’ Williams, who 12 points. “Each game, we see progress. Each game, we get better. And we look to continue that.”
    ETSU shrunk the lead to as few as 11 in the first half, but Georgia reeled off eight straight points capped off by a three-pointer by Vincent Williams to put the game away.  
    Lester Wilson paced ETSU offensively with 12 points and John Walton led the Buccaneers with six rebounds.  
    For the game, Georgia shot 63 percent from the field, it’s best performance of the season. Georgia dominated the paint, outscoring ETSU in the paint 28-to-12.
    Georgia won’t play again for seven days when it travels to Tampa, Fla. to take on the South Florida Bulls as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge. The game is televised on ESPNU and is scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 p.m.

    Kentucky Cruises Past LIU-Brooklyn, 104-75

    Kentucky shot a blistering 67.7 percent from the floor en route to thumping LIU-Brooklyn, 104-75 on Friday night at Rupp Arena.

    Freshman guard Archie Goodwin had perhaps his best game so far, with 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

    Freshman forward Alex Poythress had another big night, with 22 points and nine rebounds. Nerlens Noel (18 points), Julius Mays (15) and Willie Cauley-Stein (12) were also in double figures for Kentucky.

    Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere each had 22 points for LIU-Brooklyn.

    Arkansas Takes First Loss to Arizona State
    LAS VEGAS – The University of Arkansas basketball team came up short against Arizona State in the third game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational with the Sun Devils taking the victory 83-68, handing the Razorbacks their first loss of the season. Guard BJ Young led the Razorbacks on the court with 29 points and three rebounds in the sophomore’s 30th double-digit scoring game of his career.
    Sophomore guard Rashad Madden and sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson also recorded double-digit scoring games with 11 and 10 points respectively. Madden also recorded eight boards and three assists leading the Hogs.
    Arkansas (3-1) was unable to get into its signature style of play “The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball” in the second half as fouls and turnovers limited the Razorbacks ability to wear down its opponents.  When Arkansas was able to get the pace to their liking, midway through the first half, it erased a small deficit and built a lead.
    “I thought that this was a game of halves,” Razorback head coach Mike Anderson said.  “We established the tempo in the first half and had good rhythm, but they seized it right before the hand and we could never get it back.  You have to give Arizona State credit, they answered the call, but we didn’t do the things that were necessary for us to win.”

    After ASU took an early lead to start the game, Arkansas kept pace with the Sun Devils to take the lead 27-25 with a two-point jumper from Madden with 6:04 remaining in the first. Arkansas was able to put together a 7-2 run shortly thereafter that started with a layup by Young with 5:53 remaining in the first to extend their lead to 32-28. However, the Hogs would only hold onto the lead until the final seconds of the first half when ASU hit a jumper to take the lead 43-41 going into the locker room.

    Leading the Razorbacks on the court in the first was Young with 16 points and one rebound. Madden had a standout first half with eight points and two rebounds. Freshman guard Michael Qualls led the Razorbacks with four rebounds in the first.

    In total, Arkansas was out-rebounded 17-12 in the first half. However, the Hogs were able to capitalize on the eight Sun Devil turnovers, scoring 10 points off ASU errors and holding ASU to just five points off Arkansas turnovers.

    To start the second half ASU went on a 13-5 run to put it up 56-46 with 15:49 left in the game. Arkansas would grab consecutive layups by Young to close the score to 56-50 with 14:36 remaining. That would be the closest Arizona State would allow Arkansas to get to the lead as the Sun Devils would break away again grabbing their largest lead at the 1:12 mark in the second, 81-63.

    The Razorbacks return to the court Saturday to face the loser of the Wisconsin vs. Creighton game being contested late Friday night. Arkansas’ game at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas can be viewed online on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. CT.

    Alabama Defeats Charleston Southern, 59-46
    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Junior guard Trevor Releford scored 22 points and added six assists as the Alabama men's basketball team defeated Charleston Southern 59-46 on Friday. With the win, the Crimson Tide moves to 5-0 on the season, while the loss drops the Buccaneers to 1-4.
    Releford made seven of his 15 attempts in the game and was 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Levi Randolph also reached double-figures, scoring 10 points.
    “You have to give Charleston Southern credit tonight,” UA head coach Anthony Grant said. “They came in and really got it. I was saying before the game that this is probably one of the hardest playing teams in terms of their ability to make hustle plays, offensive rebounds and their style of play. We knew that it was going to be a battle. I’m proud of our guys for their effort tonight. I thought in the second half our defense really carried us.”
    The Crimson Tide started the game off on a 9-0 run. Through the first half, the score was tied once and the lead changed four times. The Tide eventually took a 36-27 lead at the half. After a slow start to the second half, Alabama outscored Charleston Southern 23-19 down the stretch to seal the victory.
    “We struggled through the first half,” Grant said. “At one point I think we were one for sixteen from the field. I thought our defense’s intensity really carried us through.”
    For the game, Alabama shot 40.4 percent (23-of-57) from the floor, including 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from three-point range. The Tide outscored Charleston Southern on the fast break 12-6, as well as 30-18 in the paint. Alabama also had a 17-7 edge in assists.
    Notable performances came from junior center Carl Engstrom, who finished with six points and eight rebounds, as well as freshman forward Devonta Pollard, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
    Alabama next plays this Tuesday, November 27, against Lamar in Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.

    Missouri Falls to No. 2 Louisville, 84-61

    Louisville's pressure defense forced Missouri into 22 turnovers, as the second-ranked Cardinals topped No. 13 Missouri 84-61 on Friday at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau.

    Phil Pressey and Alex Oriakhi each had 15 points for Mizzou, but no other Tiger scored in double figures.

    Louisville had five players in double figures, led by Luke Hancock with 19.

    Missouri will face VCU in the third-place game on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.