Texas A&M will open its Southeastern Conference schedule on Wednesday against Arkansas in College Station.
WHAT HAPPENED: Trailing by four points with less than eight minutes to play, the 12th-ranked Gators found their scoring touch, but more importantly found defense, and blitzed the pesky Richmond Spiders down the stretch Saturday for a big win. Sophomore guard Michael Frazier led UF with 18 points, including a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers when his team desperately needed an offensive spark. Senior center Patric Young had 15 points and six rebounds, while senior forward Casey Prather had 12 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith came off the bench to grab 13 rebounds, the most by a UF player this season.
WHAT IT MEANS: Florida put a wrap on one of the most ambitious non-conference schedule in school history. Don’t be surprised if this win over Richmond, a tough team from a very solid Atlantic 10 Conference, doesn’t look a lot better come March. The A-10, by the way, is tied with the Southeastern Conference as the seventh-toughest in the nation, according to RPI.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Free throws. The Gators are not good at shooting them. They didn’t attempt any for the game’s first 28 1/2 minutes, then went just 10-for-19 -- that’s 52.6 percent -- and missed six of last nine in the final 11 1/2 minutes. That needs to improve.
STAGGERING STATISTIC: UF blasted Richmond 44-22 on the glass, yet it was a tight game basically to the final minute.
SUBPLOT: UF won its 23rd consecutive home game and extended the second-longest such streak in school history. The Gators can tie the record of 24 home wins in a row -- a mark set over the end of the 2006 season and start of ’06-07 -- with its next game.
UP NEXT: The Gators (11-2) tip off conference play at home Wednesday night against South Carolina (7-6), a team that started slow but has won four straight.
Alabama Downs Robert Morris
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama men’s basketball team used a strong second-half defensive effort to overcome an early deficit as the Crimson Tide defeated Robert Morris 64-56 Saturday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum to close out the non-conference portion of the 2013-14 season.
“It was nice to get this win at home in this final non-conference game,” UA Head Coach Anthony Grant said. “In the first half, it seemed like a lot of things weren’t going right. We were missing layups, turning the ball over and it was hard to keep our energy up. I’m proud of our guys that they stayed with it. With the press in the second half, we were able to force some turnovers and get out in transition. Our guys fed off that energy and we had a lot of positive things.”
Alabama (6-7) forced a season-high 12 steals, 10 in the second half, to score 26 points off turnovers. The Tide’s bench played a key role as well, out-scoring the Robert Morris (5-10) bench 24-6. Sophomore guard Retin Obasohan (12 points) and junior center Carl Engstrom (8 points) led the Tide bench in scoring with a combined 20 points, while senior guard Trevor Releford led all players with 18 points.
“Our energy was really good,” Grant said. “From a defensive standpoint our team was able to maintain the effort and energy. There were a lot of plays out there with turnovers and loose balls where our guys really fed off that energy. When they were trying to drive the ball, we were able to come up with deflections and loose balls and come out in transition. Tonight wasn’t one of our prettiest performances but I’m proud of our guys for finding a way to close out the game.”
The Colonials got off to a hot start, scoring nine unanswered to open the game before Alabama got on the board thanks to a Rodney Cooper free throw. The Tide would continue to chip away at the lead, using a late 10-4 run to make it a three-point game at the half, trailing 23-20.
Alabama continued to fight in the second half, as a Releford three-pointer on the back end of a 9-0 run gave the Tide its first lead of the game, 31-30. The lead stayed in the Tide’s favor the rest of the game, as Alabama cruised to an eight-point victory.
Alabama will return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 7, when it welcomes the Vanderbilt Commodores to Coleman Coliseum in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. The contest will tipoff at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPNU.
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.
Missouri Holds Off Long Beach State, 69-59
Jabari Brown scored 22 points as Missouri beat Long Beach State 69-59 on Saturday afternoon in Columbia.
Missouri extended its home winning streak to 26 games, which is currently the longest such streak in the nation.
Earnest Ross had 16 points for the Tigers, while Jordan Clarkson added 11.
Missouri shot 52.2 percent (24-of-46) from the floor in the game, while holding LBSU to 33.3 percent shooting.
Tyler Lamb led the 49ers with 17 points.
LSU Falls to Rhode Island, 74-70
BATON ROUGE – An aggressive University of Rhode Island team took control of the game late in the first half and expanded their control early in the second half then constantly withstood every LSU rally to walk away with a 74-70 victory Saturday night at the Maravich Center.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Tigers who will now enter SEC play at 9-3. Rhode Island wins for the second time in three days and third time in the last four games and is now 9-6.
The Rams were led in scoring by E.C. Matthews with 21 points, making 6-of-12 field goals including two treys and 7-of-9 free throws. Gilvydas Biruta hit eight field goals and two treys in scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, while Xavier Munford had 17 points.
The Tigers got a 10-of-15 shooting night from Jordan Mickey who had 21 points. Andre Stringer had 13 points, 7 assists and five steals and Johnny O’Bryant III posted 11.
LSU was handled on the boards, 46-32, including a 16-11 advantage on the offensive boards. O’Bryant III had just three rebounds, Martin two and Mickey four, as LSU’s two starting guards were the leading rebounders – Stringer with 6 and Hickey with 5.
LSU found itself down six at the half, 36-30, after Rhode Island used a 13-0 run to move into a seven-point advantage with 6:23 to play. LSU would tie the game later in the half, before the Rams moved back shortly before the intermission.
In the second half, URI moved to a 12-point lead, 43-31 and 45-33, at the 15:55 mark before the Tigers press began to have a big effect. LSU slowly and gradually began to move back, taking a 54-51 lead on a Hickey layup with 9:39 left. It would last just 17 seconds as Munford hit a trey to tie the game at 54.
URI continued to put itself in good situations, opening up eight-point leads at the 4:42 and 4:14 mark before LSU tried to make one final run.
Two free throws by Stringer with 1:56 left cut the game to three, 71-68. Rhode Island turned the ball over in the press and after a missed jumper by Hickey, O’Bryant III laid the ball in to make it 71-70 Rhode Island with 1:24 left.
Then came a series of frustrations to compound the night for LSU. The press forced another URI turnover only to have JOB III turn it back the other way. URI missed two layups, the last on a block by Mickey. That led to a miss by Hickey who went coast-to-coast with the rebound off the block with 33 seconds to play.
The officials ruled the ball belonged to LSU, but used the new rule to check the call on the monitor late in the game. The ball actually was knocked out by LSU and belonged to Rhode Island. LSU almost got a 10-second call but URI called time out before the count hit 10. LSU then fouled and Munford made one free throw.
LSU got the ball and moved to the frontcourt calling timeout with less than 12 seconds left. The inbounds was made to the backcourt to Hickey who dribbled into the front court, took a screen and shot a 22-footer with about seven seconds left that Matthews eventually corralled for the Rams. He was fouled and made two free throws for the final margin.
LSU forced 22 turnovers in the game and got 24 points off those turnovers, but URI also did well getting 15 points off the 12 Tiger turnovers. LSU had 19 steals, tied for the fourth most steals in school history.
The Tigers now have little time to worry about the game as they must turn around quickly as in early Sunday afternoon practice as they host Tennessee Tuesday night at 6 p.m. on ESPN in the first of 18 Southeastern Conference games. Tickets are available at LSUtix.net.
Payne's Double-Double Leads Auburn In 81-50 Win
AUBURN, Ala. - Allen Payne had his second career double-double and was one of three Auburn players to finish in double figures in points with 16 as Auburn cruised to an 81-50 win over Florida A&M in its final non-conference game of the season on Saturday night.
Payne, who had one career double-double coming into the night, reached his second by halftime, dropping in 12 of his 16 points and grabbing 11 of his career-best 13 boards before intermission. He also finished with a career-best five assists, three of which were in the first half, as Auburn ended the non-conference season on a four-game winning streak to take an 8-3 record into SEC play next week.
KT Harrell scored a game-high 22 points for his 11th consecutive double-digit scoring game. The junior finished the game 7-for-12 from the floor, hitting the 20-point mark for the fifth time this season.
Chris Denson was the third Auburn player in double figures, hitting his average with 19 points. Most of his damage came in the second half as he was limited to just four minutes of action in the first half due to a pair of quick fouls.
Auburn jumped out to a 38-27 halftime lead as it shot 45.9 (17-for-37) percent from the floor while holding Florida A&M (4-11) to just 27.3 percent (9-for-33).
Auburn upped its scoring in the second half, dropping in 43 points on 51.9 percent shooting (14-for-27), the fifth straight game it shot at least 50 percent in a half.
The team also finished with double-digit blocks for the second straight game, registering 10 as Asauhn Dixon-Tatum and Matthew Atewe each had four and Chris Griffin had two. Griffin added nine points and seven rebounds while Dixon-Tatum also had seven boards.
Razorbacks Hit 100 To End Non-Conference
FAYETTEVILLE - The Razorbacks capitalized on 28 turnovers, notching 40 points on Roadrunner miscues, en route to a 104-71 rout of UTSA to close the 2013-14 non-conference slate.
Three Razorbacks finished in double figures, with junior Rashad Madden scoring nine of his 15 (7-11) in the first three mintues of the game. Sophomore Michael Qualls put up 11 in a team-high 12th double digit outing of the semester. Freshman Bobby Portis rounded out the double figure Razorbacks, finishing with 19 on a perfect 8-8, his ninth straight in double figures, and added 10 rebounds for his second career double-double.
A strong defensive outing for Arkansas was highlighted by 28 turnovers and 14 steals, with senior Coty Clarke contributing five of the team's total.Arkansas has double-digit steals for the third straight game, the first time that's happened since coach Mike Anderson's first five game, a tribute to the #Fastest40 style of play. Ball movement was also key for the Razorbacks, as Arkansas recorded 24 assists to UTSA's 11.
The Razorbacks shot 50 percent from the field, with the bench contributing 54 points. Portis recorded the Hogs' 50th dunk of the season on an alley-oop dish from Madden.
For more information on Arkansas basketball, follow @RazorbackMBB on Twitter.
Auburn’s 56 rebounds were a season-high and are the most pulled down by an Tony Barbee team at Auburn.
Florida A&M was held without a player in double figures. Jamie Adams finished with a team-high nine points while three players, Jomari Bradshaw, Trey Kellum and Greg Nelson each finished with eight.
Auburn opens SEC play on Thursday, Jan. 9 at Ole Miss. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
Vanderbilt Thumps Northeastern, 79-49
Rod Odom scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Vanderbilt blasted Northeastern, 79-49 on Saturday evening in Nashville.
Vanderbilt shot a blistering 62.5 percent from the floor in the game, including eight-of-12 from three-point range.
Damian Jones had 16 points for the Commodores, while Eric McClellan added 14. Kyle Fuller scored 11 points off the bench.
Vanderbilt took control of the game early, and led 46-18 at the half.
Reggie Spencer scored 15 points to lead Northeastern.
Ole Miss Falls to Dayton on Last-Second Shot
Devin Oliver banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer as Dayton topped Ole Miss 83-80 in overtime on Saturday in Oxford.
Jarvis Summers scored a career-high 29 points for the Rebels, but it wasn't enough due to Oliver's heroics.
Ole Miss led 80-76 in overtime, but Dayton was able to rally to tie the score at 80 before Oliver's deciding shot.
Marshall Henderson had 15 points for the Rebels, while Aaron Jones added 10.
Oliver finished with 26 points to lead Dayton.