SEC Men's Basketball Roundup: Wednesday, November 27 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Men's Basketball Roundup: Wednesday, November 27

    Mississippi State 58, Jackson State 56
    Kentucky 81, Eastern Michigan 63
    Gonzaga 91, Arkansas 81
    Duke 74, Alabama 64
    MSU Men's Basketball Tops Jackson State
    STARKVILLE, Miss. – On Thanksgiving day, many people will sit down for a helping of turkey.
    On Thanksgiving eve, the Mississippi State men’s basketball team served Jackson State a hearty plate of chicken.
    Craig “Chicken” Sword scored 12 second-half points and each of them proved critical as Mississippi State knocked off in-state rival Jackson State 58-56 during a Wednesday afternoon matinee at Humphrey Coliseum.
    “We didn’t approach the game like we were supposed to,” said Sword, a sophomore guard. “We came out playing soft. We were shooting too many 3.s I felt like I had to take over in the second half, since I missed so much of the first half with foul trouble.”
    “(In the second half), our plan was to attack the rim and to come out and play hard.”
    Entering the contest fresh off a win over Tennessee-Martin, Jackson State (2-5) scored the game’s first seven points and led 28-23 at halftime. In the opening half, the Bulldogs shot a season-low 28 percent from the field. Jackson State also held a plus-five rebounding advantage at halftime.
    In the second half, MSU moved the ball inside more and only took one three-point shot attempt, compared to 12 in the first half.
    “We had to come out in the second half and fight,” MSU senior forward Colin Borchert said. “We had to compete. Jackson State came in here and was pushing around us and we are an SEC team. We had to battle more on the boards, buckle down and make layups.”
    Ray said the Bulldogs were fortunate to be back at home after seeing its season-opening three-game winning streak snapped at Utah State Saturday night. MSU maintained its perfect record in the series against Jackson State.
    “It would have been a bad Thanksgiving going into it with a loss,” Ray said. “Jackson State has had to go out and compete at several places this year. They did a really good job of packing it in. I told the guys at halftime if you shoot a 3, you are coming out of the game.
    “When we attacked the rim, it made a big difference.”
    The Bulldogs only held two leads in the first half. In the second half, MSU gained more focus but still had trouble gaining complete control of the contest.
    A dunk by Roquez Johnson gave MSU a 35-34 lead with 15:00 left in the contest. MSU eventually scored eight straight points to build a 39-34 lead on a jumper by Trivante Bloodman.
    Jackson State rallied and grabbed a 44-42 lead on a layup by Julysses Nobles with 9:32 left.
    MSU battled back for a 51-51 tie on a Sword tip-in with 5:31 left.
    The Bulldogs took the lead for good at 57-55 on a Sword jumper with 1:21 left.
    For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 20 of 46 shots from the field (43.5 percent), 4 of 13 shots from 3-point range (30.8 percent) and 14 of 19 shots from the foul line(73.7 percent).The Tigers hit 20 of 54 shots from the field (37.0 percent), 1 of 10 shots from 3-point range (10.0 percent) and 15 of 19 shots from the foul line (78.9 percent).
    MSU (4-1) held a 33-32 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had six assists and 19 turnovers, while the Tigers had five assists and 15 turnovers.
    Playing only 26 minutes dye to foul trouble, Sword led MSU with his 12 points. Fred Thomas added 11 points. Gavin Ware had a team-high seven rebounds but was held to a season-low four points from the field.
    Jackson State (2-5) was led by Nobles with 22 points. Brandon West posted the game’s only double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
    MSU will host Loyola at noon Sunday.


    Kentucky Downs Eastern Michigan, Earns 500th Rupp Arena Win

    LEXINGTON, Ky. - Aaron Harrison scored 22 points, Willie Cauley-Stein added 15, and third-ranked Kentucky earned its 500th Rupp Arena win by beating Eastern Michigan 81-63 on Wednesday.
    Two days after escaping Cleveland State with a late rally, the Wildcats (6-1) was more methodical in improving to 500-62 lifetime in the 37-year-old home named for legendary coach Adolph Rupp. Leading just 35-32 at halftime, Kentucky steadily built it to double digits with 12:52 left and led by as many as 21 with 2:39 remaining.
    Kentucky controlled the glass, outrebounding the Eagles 52-33 including 19 offensive and scoring 23 second-chance points.
    Julius Randle helped with all 14 points and nine of his 10 rebounds coming after halftime in posting his seventh double-double. Cauley-Stein had eight rebounds and tied a career high with seven blocks.
    Aaron Harrison added seven rebounds and James Young six before 22,721 including actress and Kentucky native Ashley Judd.
    Dakari Johnson added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats.
    Kentucky also held EMU (5-1) to 24-of-66 shooting (36 percent) in dealing the Eagles their first loss.
    Darell Combs' 23 points led Eastern Michigan, which got just seven combined points from leading scorer Karrington Ward and guard Raven Lee, both of whom entered the game averaging 18 points per contest.
    When the teams first played in January, Kentucky laid a 90-38 beating on the Eagles with a squad less talented than this year's group. But EMU returned much improved as well thanks to Lee - who dropped a career-high 38 points on UT Arlington last Saturday - Ward and reserve forward Glenn Bryant (12.3 points per game).
    Cauley-Stein's defense steadies Cats in EMU win
    The combination has helped lead the Eagles' first 5-0 start since the 1996-97 season and provided another nonconference opponent that Kentucky had to take seriously. Then again, the Wildcats couldn't afford to look past anybody after coming within 7:41 of their second defeat Monday night against Cleveland State before rallying down the stretch for a 68-61 escape.
    Leading Kentucky's 24-7 closing run was freshman point guard Andrew Harrison, who posted two three-point plays with many of his five assists during that stretch. Any concerns that Calipari had because of his team's play during the first 33-plus minutes of that game gave way to happiness over his gifted roster's response to adversity.
    The coach hoped that they avoided positioning themselves to have to make that type of rally, which the Wildcats delivered in the first half against the Eagles.
    Kentucky started slow again but only for several minutes thanks to Aaron Harrison, who scored five straight points for a 12-10 lead that grew to 29-19 with 4:41 left in the half. Despite a silent half from Randle (one rebound, two fouls) Kentucky played fairly solid in shooting 44 percent and outrebounding the Eagles 21-16.
    But the Wildcats led just 35-32 at the break because Eastern Michigan didn't waver, closing with a 13-6 run including a 3-pointer by Combs. Randle's first basket provided a 40-34 lead coming out of the break and Kentucky slowly built on it from there.
    Andrew Harrison finished with eight points for Kentucky.


    Razorbacks Fall To No. 11 Gonzaga In Final Game In Maui
    MAUI, Hawaii – Junior Kevin Pangos scored 34 points and six different players helped No. 11/10 Gonzaga make 12 three-pointers, as the Arkansas men’s basketball team dropped a 91-81 decision to the Bulldogs Wednesday on ESPN2 at the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational held the Lahaina Civic Center.
    Four players reached double figures for the Razorbacks, but they couldn’t overcome Gonzaga’s 55 percent (30-55) night from the field that included 12-of-20 from three-point range. Arkansas is now 4-2 as it heads home for four straight games at Bud Walton Arena, while Gonzaga moves to 6-1.
    “First off, congrats to coach Mark Few and his team. They did a good job of coming out and putting on quite a shooting display led by Pangos,” said head coach Mike Anderson. “He (Pangos) almost played a perfect game and his teammates did a good job of finding him. I don’t want to take anything away from our guys though. I thought they gave great effort and showed a never-quit attitude which is something we can build on.”
    The starting frontcourt duo of freshman Bobby Portis and junior Alandise Harris led the way with a combined 35 points, including 24 in the second half, and 11 rebounds. Portis established a new season-high with 18 points on 8-of-14 from the field while grabbing a team-best seven boards. The double figure outing is the fifth of the young season for Harris, who had 17 points.
    As good as Arkansas’ frontcourt was, the play of Pangos was the difference in the game as he made 10-of-15 from the floor, 7-of-8 from three and 7-of-8 from the free throw line en route to a career-high 34 points in 39 minutes of work. Led by Pangos, Gonzaga’s glairing advantage came from the field where it shot 55 percent compared to 43 percent (31-72) from the Razorbacks.
    Arkansas did hold the edge in several statistical categories, out-rebounding the Bulldogs 40-35 thanks to 19 offensive rebounds, while also winning the turnover battle (11-9) for the 10th straight game dating back to last year. The 19 offensive boards led to a 23-5 edge in second chance points, as eight different players grabbed an offensive carom. Freshman center Moses Kingsley turned in 10 productive minutes with nine points while equaling classmate Bobby Portis’ team-best seven rebounds.
    Portis had eight of Arkansas’ first 13 points in the second half and his second old-fashioned three-point play in the opening four minutes of the second frame closed the deficit to five, at 48-43.
    Over the game’s next 10 minutes, Gonzaga hit seven three pointers, including five from Pangos, to grow the lead to as large as 18, 75-57, and put the game out of reach.
    Coming off a freshman season in which he reached double figures five times, sophomore Michael Qualls accomplished the feat for the sixth straight contest to start the season with 13 points and five rebounds. Senior Coty Clarke was the final Razorback in double figures with all 11 of his points coming in the second half, combining with Portis and Harris to give the frontcourt 35 of the team’s 50 points in the final frame. The Razorbacks have scored 103 second half points in their last two games.
    Arkansas now has five days off from game action before it welcomes Southeastern Louisiana to Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.


    Alabama Men’s Basketball Falls to No. 6 Duke
    NEW YORK CITY – The Alabama men's basketball team battled throughout the night against No. 6/5 Duke, but fell short in the end, 74-64, in the semifinal game of the NIT Season Tipoff in Madison Square Garden.
    The Tide will square off against Drexel in the consolation game on Friday afternoon. The Dragons fell by 4, 66-62, to No. 5/3 Arizona in the first semifinal. The Blue Devils and Wildcats will meet at 6 p.m. for the NIT Season Tipoff championship.
    Junior forward Nick Jacobs came off the bench and led Alabama with 18 points, which tied his career-high, while also grabbing seven rebounds and blocking three shots. Junior guard Algie Key also came off the bench to add 11 points.
    Senior guard Trevor Releford was in foul trouble for much of the game after gathering three fouls in the first half, but scored 11 points in the second half in an attempt to bring the Tide back.
    Alabama led by as many as seven points early in the first half at 12-5. However, Duke would respond by outscoring the Tide, 28-10 over the final 12 minutes to take an 11-point lead, 33-22, into the locker room.
    Alabama trailed by as many as 18 points early in the second half, but the Tide used a 12-0 run to cut the Blue Devil's lead to as few as five points down the stretch. However, UA would not get any closer.
    Duke freshman Jabari Parker led his squad with a game-high 27 points and eight rebounds.
    Alabama will face Drexel will tip off at 3:30 p.m. CT on Friday. The game will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 and the radio broadcast will be carried on the Crimson Tide Sports Network.
    For all the latest information on the team, follow AlabamaMBB on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. General athletic news can be found @UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and Alabama Athletics on Facebook.