COLUMBIA, S.C. – Arkansas rolled into Columbia on Saturday to take on South Carolina, and things didn’t end well for the Razorbacks in a 75-54 loss at the hands of the Gamecocks inside Colonial Life Arena. Brian Richardson led the way for South Carolina (12-7, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) with 20 points, six rebounds and a pair of assists off the bench.
The Razorbacks (12-7, 3-3) had the game knotted at 17 midway through the first half of play, but the Gamecocks pulled ahead on a 3-pointer and never looked back, leading the rest of the way. Richardson connected on eight of his 13 field goal attempts on the afternoon, while the USC shot 57 percent as a team. The Gamecocks also played stingy defense against the Hogs, holding Arkansas to 34 percent from the field and just 12 percent from 3-point range.
Bruce Ellington poured in 14 points for USC to go along with four rebounds and four assists, knocking down 75 percent of his shots in the process. Lakeem Jackson added 11 points for the Gamecocks, who were able to overcome a poor day from the free throw stripe (8-for-17) and 17 giveaways in the victory.
Marshall Powell did his best to keep the Razorbacks within striking distance, dropping a game-high 22 points in the loss while also hauling in 13 boards to complete the double-double effort. No other Razorbacks were able to break into double figures in the scoring column on the day, with Rickey Scott falling just short at nine points on three-of-nine shooting.
South Carolina, which led by as many as 25 on its way to the comfortable win, will return to the court on Wednesday against the Florida Gators. Arkansas will take on Alabama on Thursday night in its next contest.
Tennessee Edges Bama in Closely Contested Battle
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee went down to the wire with Alabama on Saturday afternoon, but the Volunteers eventually escaped with their second Southeastern Conference win of the season, 54-53. Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes set the tone for Tennessee (10-8, 2-4 SEC) with a combined 32 points on the day.
After Trae Golden knocked down a pair of free throws with 31 seconds to play, Alabama (12-7, 4-2) found itself trailing by four. On the ensuing possession, a driving Andrew Steele kicked it outside to Trevor Releford, who drilled a 3-pointer to bring the Tide within one with 18 seconds remaining. After Golden missed the front end of a one-and-one at the other end, Alabama got a chance at a game-winning bucket but was unable to get a shot off before time expired.
Releford paced the Crimson Tide with 18 points on the afternoon, knocking down all three of his 3-point attempts on the game. Trevor Lacey chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and four assists in the losing effort, while Rodney Cooper added 10 points and four rebounds of his own. The Tide suffered its second conference loss of the year despite a good shooting day; Bama finished with a 56.7 percent mark from the field, including a 42.9 percent mark from 3-point range.
McRae scored a team-high 17 points for the Vols, connecting on 6-of-13 shots in the process. Stokes recorded a double-double, adding 15 points to a game-high 18 boards for Tennessee. Stokes hit on 7-of-11 field goal attempts, and the Vols hit 42 of their shots as a squad.
Tennessee will hit the court once again on Tuesday night against Vanderbilt, while the Crimson Tide will face off with Arkansas on Thursday night.
Kentucky Hits Free Throws Late to Hold Off LSU
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky welcomed LSU to Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon and sent the Tigers home with a 75-70 loss, marking the fourth Southeastern Conference win of the season for the Wildcats. The Tigers made a push down the stretch, but clutch free throws from Kyle Wiltjer and Alex Poythress allowed Kentucky (13-6, 4-2 SEC) hold on for the win.
Johnny O’Bryant III knocked down a jumper with five seconds to go that brought LSU (10-7, 1-5) to within one point, but Wiltjer and Poythress proceeded to knock down two free throws apiece in the closing seconds. Anthony Hickey had an opportunity to bring LSU to within one point in between UK’s free throw trips, but he was unable to connect on the front end of a one-and-one.
Poythress’ free throws capped off a big day, as he led the Wildcats with 20 points and 12 rebounds on the afternoon. Poythress connected on six of his nine shots while going 80 percent from the free throw line. Archie Goodwin dropped in 15 points for Kentucky and Ryan Harrow did his part with 10. Nerlens Noel approached a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds, and Wiltjer added eight off the bench.
O’Bryant III led all scorers with 21 points for LSU, and he also hauled in a team-high 12 rebounds in the narrow loss. Hickey contributed 15 points to the effort, and Andre Stringer chipped in 13 points of his own. The Tigers shot 39 percent on the day and allowed the Wildcats to knock down over 50 percent of their shots while committed 10 turnovers.
Kentucky’s next game will take place on Tuesday night against Ole Miss. LSU will hit the court once again on Wednesday against the Missouri Tigers.
Mizzou Rolls Past Vanderbilt
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri hosted Vanderbilt on Saturday, and the Tigers were anything but hospitable to the Commodores in a 81-59 runaway win. Mizzou (15-4, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) had four starters score in double figures with Jabari Brown leading the charge with 21 points.
In addition to Brown, Alex Oriakhi, Keion Bell and Phil Pressey all scored in double digits on the afternoon against the ’Dores (8-10, 2-4). Oriakhi turned in a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 12 rebounds from the forward position. It was Oriakhi’s second consecutive double-double outing, as the senior turned in 18 points and 11 boards on Tuesday in a win over South Carolina.
Bell and Pressey added 12 points apiece for Mizzou in the victory, with Pressey dropping a game-high six assists as well. The Tigers enjoyed a stellar shooting day as a team, hitting on 28-of-51 field goals (55 percent), including 11-of-21 (52.4 percent) from 3-point distance.
Vandy led 11-8 in the early going, but once Missouri drew even it was all Tigers from there. Mizzou pulled away and raced to a 29-point halftime lead and led by as many as 31 throughout the game.
Rod Odom dropped in 17 points to lead the Commodores on the offensive end, while Kedren Johnson added 11 points and three assists. Vandy was 44 percent from the field as a unit, but the Tigers won the rebounding battle handily, grabbing 39 boards to the Commodores’ 17.
Mizzou will return to action on Wednesday night against LSU, while Vandy will take on Tennessee on Tuesday night.
Caldwell-Pope Powers Georgia Past Texas A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Georgia Bulldogs hit the road on Saturday to face Texas A&M for the first time since the Aggies became members of the Southeastern Conference. The Dawgs welcomes TAMU to the SEC with a 59-52 defeat, spearheaded by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 22-point effort.
Caldwell-Pope knocked for eight of his 12 shots on the day while nearly missing out on the double-double with a game-high nine rebounds. Caldwell-Pope was the only Bulldog to break into double figures, but UGA (8-11, 2-4 SEC) received solid contributions off the bench from Charles Mann, Nemanja Djurisic and Sherrard Brantley. The trio combined for 20 points, five assists and five rebounds for the Dawgs, and Georgia never trailed in the second half.
Elston Turner turned in another impressive performance for Texas A&M (12-7, 2-4), dropping 19 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists. Turner was averaging 15.5 points per outing coming into the game and has now scored 13 points or more in two of his last three contests.
Fabyon Harris contributed 13 points for the Aggies in the loss, hitting five of his 12 shots and snagging two rebounds as well. As a team the Aggies shot just 34 percent for the day, compared to 43 percent from UGA. TAMU gave the ball away 11 times on the afternoon and trailed by as many as 17.
Both teams will return to action on Wednesday night, Georgia against the Auburn Tigers and Texas A&M against Mississippi State.
Florida Uses Fast Start to Blow By Mississippi State
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Florida visited Starkville on Saturday night to face Mississippi State, and the Gators put on a show in a 82-47 blowout win over the Bulldogs. Florida started the game on a 29-8 run and sprinted away from MSU to its sixth Southeastern Conference victory of the season in as many tries.
Florida (16-2, 6-0 SEC) trailed 4-3 early on before igniting a 26-4 run to blow the game wide open. The Gators cruised from that point on, leading by as many as 36 throughout the game and thoroughly controlling the tempo.
As a team, UF shot 56.4 percent from the field while holding the Bulldogs (7-11, 2-4) to just 32.7 percent. Erik Murphy led the scoring efforts for Florida, dropping 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Kenny Boynton matched Murphy’s effort, dropping 18 points of his own while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out a pair of assists. Scottie Wilbekin scored 13 points to go along with nine assists for UF, which racked up 23 points as a unit for the game.
Fred Thomas scored 19 points to lead Mississippi State, while Colin Borchert and Gavin Ware scored 10 points apiece. The Gators’ suffocating defense only allowed MSU to hit three 3-pointers on the game, compared to 14 from Florida, and the Bulldogs were forced into nine turnovers on the game. Florida badly outrebounded MSU, 40 to 16, which included 10 offensive boards.
Florida will return to action on Wednesday against South Carolina, while Mississippi State will play Texas A&M on the same evening.
Ole Miss Edges Auburn Thanks to Henderson's Free Throws
AUBURN, Ala. – Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss visited Auburn on Saturday night for a Southeastern Conference Western Division Showdown, and the SEC’s leading scorer came through big in a 63-61 Rebels win.
With the game tied at 61 with less than 10 seconds remaining, Henderson was fouled and went to the line to shoot two free throws. Henderson calmly drilled both to put Ole Miss (17-2, 6-0 SEC) ahead by a bucket, and when Frankie Sullivan’s 3-pointer went awry on the ensuing Auburn possession, Ole Miss secured a 6-0 start in SEC play.
Henderson finished the night with 15 points, two rebounds and two assists, and the Rebs shot 43 percent as a team from the field. Ladarius White added 17 points for Ole Miss on 7-of-9 shooting, while also grabbing five rebounds. Jarvis Summers scored 14 in the win for the Rebs.
Chris Denson dropped a game-high 18 for Auburn (8-11, 2-4) in the losing effort, and Sullivan added 12 points and seven boards. The Tigers overcame a 36 percent shooting mark to stay close with Ole Miss and led by as many as 10 points throughout, but it was not enough to end the Rebels’ streak of SEC success.
Ole Miss will be back on the court on Tuesday night against Kentucky, while Auburn will play Georgia on Wednesday night.