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    SEC Men's Basketball Roundup: Thursday, December 19

    THURSDAY MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
    Georgia 58, Gardner-Webb 49
    Arkansas 102, UT Martin 56
    Mississippi State 66, Florida Gulf Coast 53
    Auburn 66, Clemson 64
    USC Upstate 74, South Carolina 68

     

    Bulldogs Top Gardner-Webb, 58-49

    ATHENS, Ga. -- With over 4,000 Athens-area students, teachers and staff in attendance, the Georgia men's basketball team picked up its fourth win in a row, beating Gardner Webb 58-49 Thursday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.

    Georgia (5-4) was led by Juwan Parker who had a career-high 12 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Thornton also contributed 11 points and seven rebounds.

    "I thought both teams had a tough time with the morning start," said head coach Mark Fox. "I thought our team had a little zombie look to them--couldn't even pass and catch it cleanly to start the game. Nemi [Djurisic] gave us a nice lift offensively in the first half. We just never quite found a rhythm--give their defense credit for that too. But our defensive rebounding was something that we've been focusing on, and it was key this afternoon to winning the game."

    After a slow start offensively, Georgia closed the first half on a 7-0 run to take a 21-12 halftime lead. Djurisic came off the bench to lead Georgia with eight points in the half.

    In the second half, the Runnin' Bulldogs (6-7) slowly cut into the Georgia lead, shrinking it to just one with 6:30 left in the game, but Kenny Gaines made a bucket plus a free throw which catapulted Georgia on a 7-0 run to regain a 45-37 advantage securing its fifth win of the season.

    The Bulldogs limited Gardner-Webb to its lowest point output of the season and just 31 percent shooting from the field

    Naji Hibbert and Tyler Strange led Gardner-Webb with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

    Georgia will return to action on Saturday with a 2 p.m. tipoff against Western Carolina (6-7). The game will be televised on CSS. For ticket information, go to Georgiadogs.com.





    Razorbacks Hit Century Mark With Five In Double Figures

    FAYETTEVILLE -- Freshman Moses Kinglsey recorded his first double-double as the Razorbacks dismantled the UT Martin Skyhawks 102-56.

    A well balanced attack saw five Razorbacks in double figures, with the team shooting 61 percent from the floor and almost 50 percent from three Thursday night. Senior Coty Clarke matched his season high 15 points and added nine rebounds, just shy of a double-double. Freshman Bobby Portis also added 15 points and nine rebounds, his sixth consecutive double figure game.

    Kingsley notched career high numbers with 12 points and 11 rebounds, the first career double-double for the freshman big man. A force under the basket, he added three blocked shots in his 20 minutes and leads the team with 18 so far this season.

    Michael Qualls and Rashad Madden added 11 points a piece, with all of Qualls's 11 coming in the second half (4-5).

    Eleven Razorbacks contributed to the century effort, with 41 points coming from the bench.

    For more information on Arkansas basketball, follow @RazorbackMBB on Twitter.





    MSU Men's Basketball Defeats Florida Gulf Coast

    STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Craig Sword scored 17 points and was one of five Mississippi State players in double figures Thursday night.

    The Bulldogs showed balance and defensive determination in playing its most complete game of the season.

    MSU built an eight-point halftime lead before posting a 66-53 win over Florida Gulf Coast in men’s basketball action at the Humphrey Coliseum.

    “This was a really good win against a good opponent,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “It was our most complete game on defense. It was the best we played as a team since the Ole Miss and South Carolina games at the end of last season.”

    Florida Gulf Coast (5-6) held only one lead in the contest, at 8-7 with better than five minutes gone by in the first half. MSU (8-2) quickly regrouped for a 14-10 lead on a layup by Gavin Ware.

    The Bulldogs were already establishing a dominant game inside. Ware and Roquez Johnson combined for 20 points and 14 rebounds.

    MSU built a six-point lead at 21-15 on two free throws by Craig Sword with 8:02 left in the half.

    The Bulldogs forced 14 first-half turnovers and led 32-24 at halftime.

    “Coach has been telling us to be aggressive for the entire game,” MSU freshman guard IJ Ready said. “Once we the ball in the paint, then it opens up more 3s. The big thing about tonight is that we were more aggressive for the entire game and our big men played well.”

    MSU built its first double-digit lead on a layup by Sword to start the second half. The lead was later extended to 12 at 40-28 with 14:52 left.

    Florida Gulf Coast then made one last rally, closing within six points at both 40-34 and 42-36.

    MSU stopped the run with an old-fashioned 3-point play from Trivante Bloodman and a critical defensive rebound on the game’s next possession.

    “When they got it to six, I was proud of our how guys really responded and found some extra defensive effort,” Ray said. “Hopefully, our team is continuing to get better. That is what you want to see as the season goes on.”

    The lead was stretched back to 12 on a tip-in from Johnson at 53-41 with 7:31 left. From there, the Maroon and White cruised to the victory.

    “The big men having getting me open on the screens,” said Sword, a sophomore guard. “I have also been more aggressive taking the ball to the rim. My patience has been a lot better this year and that is why I am getting more good shots on the offensive end.”

    For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 23 of 50 shots from the field (46.0 percent), 5 of 14 shots from 3-point range (35.7 percent) and 15 of 26 shots from the foul line (57.7 percent). The Eagles hit 21 of 46 shots from the field (45.7 percent), 3 of 18 shots from 3-point range (16.7 percent) and 8 of 15 shots from the foul line (53.3 percent).

    MSU held a 33-30 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had eight assists and 17 turnovers, while the Eagles had six assists and 21 turnovers.

    Behind Sword, IJ Ready followed with 12 points. Ware, Johnson and Fred Thomas each added 10 points. Johnson had eight rebounds, while Ware had six rebounds. Ready also had five of the Bulldogs’ 15 steals.

    Florida Gulf Coast, an NCAA Sweet 16 tournament participant last season, received 15 points from Brett Comer, 11 points from Chase Fieler and 10 points from Bernard Thompson.

    MSU returns to the road for a Sunday night contest with South Florida in the opening round of the Las Vegas Classic. Game time is set for 7 p.m. CT from the Orleans Arena.





    Auburn finds an identity in tough win over Clemson

    AUBURN, Ala. -- Chris Denson said Auburn's 66-64 win over Clemson on Thursday night came only after some reflection about what had transpired in the weeks before.

    "We did a lot of looking in the mirror, especially the last two games," he said. "I guess we thought it would come easy, but winning is hard. If we play like that every night, we can play with anybody."

    Auburn matched the nation's No. 1 defensive team step for step before jumping ahead, for good, with 43 seconds remaining. That was a far better defensive effort than in Auburn's last two games, a 99-70 loss to Iowa State and an 81-62 loss to Illinois.

    "We fought tonight and that was apparent. And that translated on the defense," Denson said.

    Auburn improved to 5-3 with a 1 p.m. Sunday game against Boston College in Auburn Areana waiting in the wings. Clemson fell to 8-3.

    Auburn flipped things Thursday, leading by 11 in the first half, trailing by nine in the second half, and righting things for a down-to-the-wire finish.

    "You have to keep fighting," said coach Tony Barbee. "That has to be our identity. We had I don't know how many hard days of practice since our last."

    Maybe 10, Barbee estimated.

    "Fighting doesn't guarantee you anything. It does guarantee that you will give yourself a chance to be in every ball game."

    Denson led Auburn, as usual, this time with 19 points. But the Tigers also benefited from KT Harrell's 14 points and two pivotal plays who made their biggest plays when it mattered the most.

    Malcolm Canada stole the ball and passed it to Matthew Atewe, who made an old-fashioned 3-point play to tie the game at 58-58 with 2:41 left. That was his only points. Then, up by 1, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum blocked a shot with 26 seconds left. Auburn scored the next two points.

    "I felt like I had to do something for the team, making one good play," Dixon-Tatum said.

    "Asauhn didn't have his best stuff," Barbee said, "but the team stayed on Asauhn. I stayed on Asauhn about keep fighting and then make the play when it matters.

    "We really locked in defensively, but that is what we have been working on in the last 10 days. I am glad it paid off for the guys so they could see all the success from their hard work."





    Gamecocks Fall to USC Upstate, 74-68

    COLUMBIA, S.C. – Holding a three-point lead at the half, South Carolina was unable to keep up with USC Upstate’s shooting from the field in the second half (48.1 percent) as the Gamecocks fell 74-68 today at Colonial Life Arena.

    Freshman Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 19 points and seven rebounds, and junior Tyrone Johnson chipped in 11 points, but the Spartan offense was keyed by Ricardo Glenn who had a season-high 22 points and 14 rebounds to go along with three others who scored in double figures for USC Upstate.

    The Gamecocks (2-5) grabbed an early 4-0 lead after senior guard Bruce Ellington found Johnson cutting to the basket, but the Spartans (6-5) quickly tied the game up, scoring on consecutive possessions before senior forward Torrey Craig the road team a one-point advantage from the line.

    Carolina responded with a 10-1 run ignited by back-to-back 3’s from Thornwell and Duane Notice in less than three minutes. Sophomore forward Liamonas Chatkevicius capped off the run by tipping in a missed attempt from 3 from Brenton Williams.

    After a lay-up from Glenn cut the Gamecocks advantage to 24-14 with seven minutes remaining, Williams pushed the lead back 13 with his first 3-pointer of the game. Less than a minute later, Notice turned over Jodd Maxey and quickly found Williams open on the break on the right side for another 3 to extend the run to 8-2 and push the lead to 32-16.

    Fueled by six-straight made field goals to the end the half, that included three 3’s over the final four-plus minutes, USC Upstate cut the Gamecock lead to 37-33 at the break. The Spartans outscored Carolina 17-4 to close the half as the Gamecocks shot 2-9 over the final four-plus minutes.

    Out of the break, Ellington scored his first points of the game on a 3-pointer to push the home side’s lead to seven.

    With 14 minutes to play on a fast break, the Spartans looked to cut the Gamecocks advantage to one, but Desmond Ringer tracked back and blocked the lay-up attempt. The rebound was passed ahead to Williams who cut into the lane and found Mindaugas Kacinas under the basket to give them a 45-40 lead.

    With under 12 minutes remaining, Williams lost the handle on the ball during a drive into the lane that led to Ty Greene finding Fred Miller on the break for two of his 10 points to cut the Gamecocks lead to 45-44. The Spartans grabbed their first lead since the early going as Miller found ShunQuez Stephens cutting to the basket on the next possession.

    Up by one at 52-51 with just over seven minutes to play, Carolina saw the Spartans hit a 10-2 run which Craig capped by dunking a missed 3-point attempt from Greene to push the road team’s lead to seven.

    Ellington began to push the tempo, hitting a jumper at the opposite end before driving to the basket on the next possession after a steal from Kacinas. The senior’s lay-up was off the mark, but Demetrius Henry was there to clean up the miss on a dunk to bring to the Gamecocks within three at 61-58 with less than four minutes remaining.

    After a Glenn hit one of two from the line as Henry picked up his fifth foul of the game, Carolina pulled within two as Johnson found Ellington at the top of the key for his second 3-pointer of the day. The Spartans though quickly responded Glenn found Greene in the corner for three of his 10 points.

    Down three, Johnson drove to the basket and forced a foul on the Spartans, but the ball wouldn’t drop for the junior. He converted on the pair, but Miller converted on a three-point play on the other end to extend the Spartans’ lead to 69-65 with 37 seconds. Thornwell missed a 3-point attempt on the Gamecocks following possession.

    After shooting 11-29 (37.9 percent) in the first half, the Spartans shot 13-27 (48.1 percent) compared to the Gamecocks second half percentage of 27.8 percent (10-36). South Carolina finished the night shooting 23-69 (33.3 percent) from the field while USC Upstate hit 24-56 (42.9 percent).

    The Gamecocks will head to Honolulu, Hawaii tomorrow ahead of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic where they will play three games in four days, ending on Christmas Day. Carolina will face St. Mary’s in its first game of the tournament on Sunday. Tip-off is slated for 11 p.m. ET and will air live on ESPNU.