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    Saturday SEC Men's Basketball Scoreboard

    Saturday Men's Hoops RESULTS
    Kentucky 93, Belmont 80
    Georgia 65, W Carolina 63
    Vanderbilt 76, Georgia Tech 63
    Florida 66, Fresno State 49
    LSU 86, UAB 63
    Illinois 65, Missouri 64
    Oklahoma 64, Texas A&M 52
    Xavier 77, Alabama 74
    Arkansas 72, South Alabama 60


    Randle's Career High Boosts Kentucky Over Belmont

    Freshman Julius Randle dropped a career-high 29 points on Saturday to help the Kentucky Wildcats (9-3) notch a 93-80 win over Belmont. The 6-foot-9 big man added 10 rebounds to his stat line to complete the double-double performance while shooting 80 percent from the field.

    Kentucky trailed the Bruins (8-5) early in the second half and had to rally around their star in Randle to muscle out a win. Randle had help though, especially from fellow freshman Aaron Harrison, who scored 23 points to aid in the effort.

    Willie Cauley-Stein dropped 16 points while hauling in seven rebounds and swatting two shots on the defensive end of the floor, and the Wildcats ended the afternoon shooting 55 percent with a 42-25 advantage in the rebounding category. 

    Belmont held a two-point lead at halftime, but it was not able to hold off the surging Wildcats in the second half in front of a crowd of more than 24.000 at Rupp Arena.
     



    Bulldogs Win Fifth Straight By Downing Western Carolina

    ATHENS, Ga.— Georgia guard Charles Mann hit a pair of free throws with just 2.5 seconds remaining to propel the Bulldogs to a 65-63 victory over Western Carolina. Georgia, which is now riding a five-game winning streak, overcame a ten-point second half deficit to secure its sixth victory of the season.
     
    “I thought their team deserved to win that game more than ours did,” said head coach Mark Fox. “We did not play well, we did not shoot free throws well and at the end, when we tried to miss a free throw, we make the son of a gun. I am proud of our team for this: for battling back, digging in and competing. But we have to play more complete than we played. I didn’t coach well and I told our team that. I didn’t feel like that we had a good approach [on their changing defenses].
     
    “I am proud that we competed and we learned a lot today in this game, and I was really proud that we battled back and won the game. But give their team credit—boy they made a lot of plays and I have a lot of respect for that.”
     
    After Western Carolina’s (6-8) Tom Tankelewicz tied the game at 63 from the free throw line with 20 seconds left, the Bulldogs’ (6-4) Gaines drove through the lane and was fouled leading to his game winning free-throws.
     
    The Bulldogs used an 11-1 run in the game’s final seven minutes, capped off by a Donte’ Williams dunk and Nemi Djurisic three-pointer to take the lead and gain the momentum heading into the game’s final possessions.
     
    The game was close from the start with the first half featuring five lead changes and nine ties. After Georgia tied the game at 29 to end the half, the Catamounts used an 8-0 run out of the halftime intermission to build a 37-29 lead. After the Bulldogs cut the deficit to five, Western Carolina stormed back to bring its lead to double digits with 13 minutes remaining.
     
    Kenny Gaines led Georgia offensively with 17 points. Mann also contributed 13 points.
     
    The Catamounts relied on Trey Sumler who had 21 points and five rebounds.
     
    After a brief holiday break, the Bulldogs will travel to Boulder, Colo. to take on No. 20 Colorado (10-1) on Saturday, Dec. 28. Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.



    Vanderbilt Rallies to Take Care of Georgia Tech

    Rod Odom knocked down four 3-pointers en route to a team-high 18 points, and Vanderbilt rallied from a 14-point deficit to take down Georgia Tech on Saturday, 76-63. The Commodores (7-3) also received solid contributions from Dai-Jon Parker (13 points) and Kyle Fuller, who came off the bench to score 12.

    Georgia Tech (8-4) ran out to a double-digit lead in the first half thanks to Daniel Miller, who scored 11 points in the opening 20 minutes to set the tone for the Yellow Jackets. The Commodore defense went into lockdown mode from that point on, however, limiting Miller to just five more points, all of which came with the game out of reach in the final minutes after a 27-minute drought without a field goal.

    Vandy opened the second half with a 9-2 run that helped swing momentum fully in its favor, and by the midway point of the second half the Commodores had completed a 29-point swing by building a 15-point advantage. 

    Odom shot well from behind the 3-point arc, knocking down four of his five attempts from long range, including a pair down the stretch in the second half that helped hold the Jackets at bay.
     



    Florida Runs Away from Fresno State

    Senior forward Casey Prather scored 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting nd grabbed five rebounds to help the 15th-ranked Gators awaken after a listless first half of offense, pacing UF to its third straight win. The Gators held the Bulldogs to just 19 first-half points, but scored only 24 themselves (on 29-percent shooting from the floor and just 1-for-13 from the 3-point arc). Prather, who kept the Gators afloat with eight first-half points, got UF going with two quick field goals early in the second half, sandwiched around a Michael Frazier 3-pointer and the Gators began inching away.
     
    Florida defense was in Fresno’s face all afternoon. The Bulldogs came in averaging 76.2 points per game and shooting 24 treys per game treys per game. UF held Fresno to just 32 percent from the floor and only 4-from-17 from behind the 3-point line (and the fourth was a half-court shot at the end of the game). The Bulldogs' 49 points were their fewest of the season.
     
    Florida pounded Fresno on the glass, winning the battle of the boards 47-24, with 20 on the offensive end. Will Yeguete had 10 rebounds and Patric Young nine. 
     
    The Gators avoided the dreaded ‘twas the game before Christmas trapdoor that has punched them in the gut in some recent holiday seasons. Much better way to head home for the break than, say, last year’s egg-laying performance against Kansas State.
     
    UF is off for the next four days, but report back for practice Thursday. Florida (9-2) will host Savannah State (2-10) on Dec. 29 at the O’Connell Center.


     

    LSU Blitzes UAB, 86-63

    BATON ROUGE – Johnny O'Bryant III dropped in 13 of his game-leading 17 points during the second half as the LSU men’s basketball team collected its fourth straight victory, an 86-63 decision over UAB Saturday at the Maravich Center.

    For O’Bryant III, it was eighth double figure performance in 10 games this season. He was 6-of-12 from the floor and added a 5-for-7 effort at the free throw line.

    With the victory, LSU (8-2) improved to 17-4 during non-conference games under second year coach Johnny Jones. It also marked the second straight contest where the Tigers led wire-to-wire and had four players score 10-plus points.

    Andre Stringer turned in a solid all-around effort with 13 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists against zero turnovers. He knocked down a trio of three-pointers which allowed him to surpass Ronnie Henderson (1983-86) with 190 triples for third place on LSU’s all-time list. The 13 points also enabled the senior guard to eclipse Anthony Wilson (1983-87) for the No. 33 place on LSU’s scoring list.

    Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey chipped in 12 points apiece on a combined 11-of-23 shooting. Mickey, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, secured six rebounds and tacked on four blocks whereas the 12 points for Martin equaled his second career highest output.

    Off the bench, Tim Quarterman garnered career-highs with nine points and nine assists over his 22 minutes of action. The nine assists by Quarterman are the second-most in the Johnny Jones era. The Georgia native played a major part in LSU’s 24-9 scoring edge in bench points. Anthony Hickey tallied eight points, five rebounds and two steals for the Tigers.

    As a team, LSU compiled a 32-for-66 shooting effort which included a 10-for-17 clip from three-point territory. The Tigers matched a season-high with 20 assists on their 32 field goals. The 10 triples for LSU also equaled a season’s best, and the Tigers connected for 12-of-17 at the free throw line.   

    UAB was held to 21-for-69 from the floor and a season’s low 30.4 field goal percentage. The Blazers also misfired on 16 of their 17 three-point attempts but were able to hit 20-of-26 from the foul line. UAB, the nation’s leading rebounding team, tallied a 48-39 rebounding advantage.

    After splitting the game’s first eight points, LSU surged ahead by a 13-4 margin at the 17:12 mark of the first half. Martin and Hickey combined for a trio of three-pointers over a 68-second span.

    The Blazers pulled back to 17-11 with 14:51 remaining, but the Tigers ripped off 11 of the next 14 points to extend the advantage to 28-14 with 11:55 on the clock. Five different players scored points for LSU as the Tigers connected on 11 of their first 19 field goals.

    Martin and Stringer picked up 10 points apiece during the opening stanza, and LSU carried a 49-33 lead into the locker room. The Tigers garnered 14 assists on their 20 baskets in the first 20 minutes. Quarterman’s six assists were the most by a LSU player during a half this season.

    UAB never got back within single digits in the second half. LSU’s defense forced the Blazers to miss 30 of its 37 field goal attempts which included 12 of 13 shots from three-point territory. UAB was paced by Chad Frazier’s 15 points, but he was bottled up for a 4-for-16 shooting clip.

    Henry Shortess buried his first career basket, a three-pointer on the right baseline, on the right baseline. Brandon Eddlestone added two rebounds, and LSU closed out the 86-63 win. The 23-point victory equaled LSU’s largest margin of victory on the season. The Tigers also won an 89-66 decision over Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 22.

    After its holiday break, LSU continues its stretch of three consecutive Saturday home games to finish non-conference action when McNeese State visits the Maravich Center. Tip time is slated for 7 p.m., and the game will carried by Cox Sports Television along with the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net.

    The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.

    For all of the latest news and information on Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/basketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsubasketball along with @lsubasketball and @lsucoachjones on Twitter.
     




    No. 23 Missouri Upset By Illinois, 65-64

    Tracy Abrams hit a pair of free throws with four seconds left to lift Illinois past Missouri 65-64 on Saturday in St. Louis.

    The last two minutes of the game featured back-and-forth action, with each team taking the lead away from the other. With 15 seconds left, Mizzou's Jabari Brown hit a three-pointer to give the Tigers a 64-63 lead, but Abrams free throws sealed the game for the Illini.

    Jordan Clarkson led the Tigers (10-1) with 25 points, while Earnest Ross added 13. Brown finished with 10.

    Abrams had 22 points for Illinois and Rayvonte Rice added 14.



    Texas A&M Falls to Oklahoma, 64-52

    Texas A&M hit just 18-of-67 (26.9 percent) from the floor and lost to Oklahoma 64-52 in Houston on Saturday night.

    The Aggies hit just 5-of-34 (14.7 percent) from the floor in the first half, which led to a 23-14 deficit at the break.

    Texas A&M hit its first three-pointer of the game, then missed its next 20 in a row, finishing two-of-23 (8.7 percent). Jamal Jones hit the only two three-pointers for A&M.

    Jordan Green was the only Aggie in double figures, scoring 10 points. Kourtney Roberson added seven points and 13 rebounds.

    Jordan Woodard had 20 points for Oklahoma.
     



    Alabama Men’s Basketball Edged by Xavier, 77-74

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The men's basketball team dropped a 77-74 decision to Xavier on Saturday night in Coleman Coliseum. Senior Trevor Releford scored a game-high 17 points, his 10th double-figure scoring outing in as many games, while freshman Shannon Hale chipped in a season-best 14 points for the Crimson Tide.

    With the loss, Alabama drops to 5-6 on the season, while the win lifts the Musketeers to 9-3 overall.

    “Credit has to go to Xavier,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. “In the second half they completely changed the complexion of the game. From about the 12 minute mark on, we could not get stops and had a tough time getting any continuity. I give them credit.”

    In the loss, Alabama saw a balanced scoring attack with six players scoring eight or more points.

    Trailing early in the first half, the Tide used a 12-2 run to gain its first lead of the game with 13:31 left before halftime. Alabama would take a seven point advantage in to the break, leading 33-26.

    The Tide’s lead ballooned to 12 to start the second half, but the Musketeers would not go away. Xavier gradually chipped away and took its first lead since 14:16 in the first half with a Dee Davis layup at the 4:40 mark. The Musketeers pulled in front by as many as five down the stretch and held on for the three-point victory.

    Alabama shot 48.9 percent (23-47) from the field and 42.1 percent (8-19) behind the arc for the game, outshooting Xavier’s 39.7 percent (25-63) from the field and 33.3 percent (5-15) from three-point land. The Musketeers took advantage from the free-throw stripe by converting 78.6 percent (22-28), while the Tide shot 66.7 percent (20-30) from the line.

    Led by Hale’s 14 points, Alabama saw a decisive advantage in bench scoring, where the Tide outscored Xavier 28-18 off the bench.

    With the loss, Alabama drops to 0-5 when allowing more than 70 points and 0-4 in games decided by five points or less.

    Alabama will return to action after the Christmas holiday when it travels West to take on the nationally-ranked UCLA Bruins on Saturday, Dec. 28, at 9 p.m. CT (7 p.m. PT) on ESPN2. It will mark just the second time the Tide will make the trip to Pauley Pavilion, with the first coming on Jan. 28, 1983 when Alabama stunned then-No. 1 UCLA, 70-67.

    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.



    Arkansas Puts Away South Alabama in Little Rock 72-60

    FAYETTEVILLE - In double figures for the seventh straight game, Bobby Portis and the Razorbacks defeated South Alabama 72-60 in Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark.

    Little Rock native Portis led the Razorbacks, tallying 15 points on 6-7 from the floor with six rebounds in his homecoming game. Redshirt junior, another Little Rock son, put up 10 points, landing him in double figures for the sixth game this season, in addition to six rebounds and a team high three blocked shots.

    The Razorbacks are shooting 50 percent from the floor during the first half (14-28). The #FayettevilleFlush made the trip to the state capital, with Michael Qualls recording three posterizing dunks over the Jaguars.

    Arkansas held South Alabama's leading scorer and Sun Belt pre-season Player of the Year Augustine Rubit to only eight points in 38 minutes and kept the Jaguars shooting below 35 percent from the floor, a season low. Head coach Mike Anderson's #Fastest40 style of play had South Alabama out of sorts, with the Razorbacks scoring 22 points on a season high 19 miscues.