|MEN'S BASKETBALL RESULTS
|Auburn 79, South Carolina 74
|Vanderbilt 64, Tennessee 60
|Arkansas 65, Alabama 58
|Texas A&M 72, Mississippi State 52
Auburn Tops Gamecocks For Third Straight SEC Win
Chris Denson and KT Harrell combined for 50 points Wednesday night, but Auburn coach Tony Barbee said it would be best to look beyond the box score to find all who helped the Tigers to their third straight SEC win, a 79-74 victory at South Carolina.
He credited some big plays, or at least quality minutes, from Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, Allen Payne, Tahj Shamsid-Deen, Alex Thompson and Jordon Granger to help Auburn to its first road win of the year.
The team effort helped Auburn to continue to enjoy its reversal of fortune. The Tigers' three straight league wins followed an 0-6 conference start. Auburn improved to 11-9 overall to go along with its 3-6 SEC record. The Gamecocks fell to 8-14 overall and 1-8 in the league.
Barbee was willing to spread his compliments, but it was Denson and Harrell who, as usual, led the way. They each scored 25 and as Denson became the 34th player in Auburn history with 1,000 career points.
The Tigers opened the second half on a hot streak, stretching a modest halftime advantage to a 16-point lead with 13:20 remaining. But, even faster, South Carolina caught the Tigers.
"We kind of let our guard down," Barbee said.
Finally, Auburn slowed the Gamecocks to hang on for the win.
Denson said Auburn was ready for the challenge in the closing minutes.
"Everybody was confident. I think last year, we would have folded. Everybody was poised," Denson said.
Barbee said almost everybody helped.
He said Dixon-Tatum "had moments late in the game that helped us overcome.
"Allen Payne did the same thing. He came up late when we needed to come up with some big rebounds. And how about Tahj? They put a lot of pressure on you, and it didn't bother him at all."
Barbee said Alex Thompson helped Auburn build its big second-half lead. "It was Alex who was in the game." And of Jordon Granger, "How about the first half he had?"
Denson and Harrell did leave many points for their teammates, but Shamsid-Deen scored 12 and Payne had 9 points and 9 rebounds. Auburn hit a snappy 52.7 percent of its shots. Brenton Williams had 29 points for South Carolina.
Auburn will go for its fourth straight win at LSU on Saturday afternoon.
Vols Rally, But Fall At Vandy, 64-60
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Volunteers rallied from a 12-point deficit Wednesday but could not complete the comeback in a 64-60 loss to Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym.
Senior Jordan McRae finished 16 points to lead Tennessee (14-8, 5-4 SEC). Junior Jarnell Stokes contributed his team-leading 13th double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Trailing by as many as 12 points, the Vols slowly chipped away at Vanderbilt's lead in the second half. Maymon tied the game at 53-53 on a layup from Darius Thompson with 6:35 left.
Vanderbilt (13-8, 5-4) answered in the next possession -- a 3-pointer by Dai-Jon Parker -- and led the rest of the way.
The Vols made one more surge the last 30 seconds of the game. Freshman A.J. Davis hit a layup and junior Josh Richardson followed in the next possession with a long jumper to cut the Vanderbilt lead to 62-60 with 16 seconds left.
Senior Antonio Barton had a chance to tie the game with less than 10 seconds on the clock, but lost possession of the ball while driving through the lane on a layup attempt. Rod Odom, who led Vanderbilt with 26 points, made a pair of free throws to give Vanderbilt the final 64-60 lead.
Strong second-half rebounding helped the Vols get back in the game. Tennessee outrebounded Vanderbilt 41 to 26 in the game and collected 20 offensive rebounds, compared to just seven for Vanderbilt.
Stokes led the Tennessee with 14 rebounds, six of them on the offensive end. Maymon had 11 rebounds to go along with nine points.
The Commodores' scoring came in bunches in the first half. Vanderbilt had three 6-0 runs during the opening 20 minutes, including a run to close out the half.
McRae hit a three to cut Vanderbilt's lead to 30-26 with 4:43 left in the half, but the Vols did not score again before halftime. The Commodores built their lead to 36-26 at halftime on a layup by Kyle Fuller.
Vanderbilt shot a strong 60 percent (15 of 25) from the field in the opening half. Rod Odom and Fuller combined to score 26 of Vanderbilt's 36 first-half points. Meanwhile, the Vols were held to 40 percent on the floor (10 of 25).
Tennessee returns to action on Saturday, hosting South Carolina at 3 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will air on ESPNU.
Hogs Turn Away Alabama
FAYETTEVILLE - Freshman Bobby Portis took down Scotty Thurman's freshman single game scoring record, dropping 35 points as the Razorbacks over took Alabama 65-58 Wednesday.
Portis wasn't done with surpassing Thurman's mark, also setting a new single game blocks record with six and recording the most made field goals in a single game since Rotnei Clarke in 2009 with 14. This is the freshman's 16th career game in double figures. Portis fell one short of his fourth career double-double with nine rebounds, including three offensive boards.
The Razorbacks won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Crimson Tide 42-38. Senior Kikko Haydar set a new career high in the first half, grabbing five boards including one on the offensive end. Arkansas won the turnover battle for the 25th time in 26 games, forcing 13 Alabama turnovers and picking up 12 points on the Tide's miscues.
A&M Drops Mississippi State, 72-52
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Texas A&M snapped a five-game losing streak with a 72-52 victory over Mississippi State on Wednesday night before 4,626 fans in Reed Arena.
Jamal Jones led the Aggies with 20 points and fellow forward Kourtney Roberson followed with 14. The Aggies (13-9, 4-5 SEC) and Bulldogs (13-9, 3-6) had lost eight consecutive games between them entering the contest, and A&M avenged an 81-72 overtime loss in Starkville, Miss., on Jan. 18 that kicked off the Aggies' losing streak.
MSU, in playing its first game in history in College Station, traded leads with A&M until early in the second half, when the Aggies pulled away thanks to a relentless 16-0 run. A&M's defense held the Bulldogs scoreless for more than 10 minutes in that stretch -- from the 16:26 mark (36-35) to 6:08 (52-37).
The Aggies shot poorly from the 3-point line early (finishing 6 of 18 for 33.3 percent), but stayed in the game by outscoring the Bulldogs 40-14 in the paint and 22-1 in points off turnovers. The game's highlight occurred when A&M freshman Davonte Fitzgerald blocked a fast-break layup attempt by Fred Thomas that prompted a roar from the sparse crowd more than midway through the second half, with A&M clutching a 47-35 lead.
No MSU player even reached double digits in scoring until Thomas sank a 3-pointer with 3:20 remaining in the contest. He and Craig Sword paced the Bulldogs with 10 points each. The Aggies also forced 17 MSU turnovers while committing only six of their own.
The Bulldogs return home for consecutive contests against No. 18 Kentucky and Georgia on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively, while the Aggies play at Georgia on Saturday and return to Reed for a Wednesday contest against LSU.