The Bulldogs return home for the penultimate time this season on Feb. 25, as they welcome the Missouri Tigers to Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be televised live by ESPNU.
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Behind a balanced attack, the Missouri men's basketball team edged Tennessee, 75-70, Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers got scoring contributions from eight different players in shooting 56.5 percent from the field. Junior guard Jabari Brown notched a team-high 24 points and Missouri tossed in 40 points in the paint to earn the victory. The Tigers improve to 18-7 overall and 6-6 in the SEC.
While the Tigers still relied on the three-headed monster of Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross, Mizzou got great performances out of its frontcourt freshmen. Johnathan Williams III (10 points, five rebounds), Torren Jones (career-high eight points, five rebounds, one block) and Keanau Post (four points, three rebounds) collectively had their best game of the season.
Trailing 5-4 less than three minutes in the game, Missouri ripped off a 10-0 run to establish an early lead. After Brown sunk one of his two three-pointers, senior forward Tony Criswell knocked down a trey of his own to give the Tigers a 22-11 lead.
Starting center Ryan Rosburg dealt with foul trouble throughout the game. The 6-foot-10 sophomore picked up his second foul at the 12:34 mark, forcing head coach Frank Haith to depend on his reserves in the frontcourt for crucial minutes. The big men off the bench rose to the occasion.
Tennessee slowly got back in the game behind hot shooting from senior Jordan McRae, who posted a game-high 31 points. His jumper with 6:11 remaining in the first half clipped the deficit to 30-26. The Tigers answered with clutch plays from Jones and Post. After an offensive rebound and put back from Jones, Post threw down an emphatic dunk on the ensuing possession. Missouri owned a slim 41-37 lead at halftime.
McRae continued to have the hot hand in the second half for the Volunteers, hitting a three-pointer on the first possession to slice Mizzou's lead to one. Tennessee grabbed a 46-45 lead at the 15:07 mark, but again Jones stepped up, reeling off four straight points. The Tigers' bench outscored the Volunteers' 17-3, their best performance in SEC play.
The second half was a back-and-forth contest, featuring eight lead changes. Missouri finally edged in front for good with four minutes to play. Brown knifed through the lane and flipped in a reverse layup and Jordan Clarkson followed with a jumper two possessions later to give the Tigers a 70-65 advantage with 2:12 remaining on the clock.
Tennessee battled back to close the gap to 71-70, but Brown hit two free throws with 15 seconds left and forced a Volunteer turnover on their final possession to seal the deal.
On the heels of their second consecutive victory, the Tigers will complete their three-game home stand against Vanderbilt on Wednesday. The game tips off at 7 p.m.
Gamecocks Top Alabama, 67-66, In SEC Thriller
COLUMBIA, S.C. - For the second time in three days, South Carolina (10-15, 3-9 SEC) came away with a conference win, topping Alabama (10-15, 4-8 SEC), 67-66, with key plays down the stretch this evening at Colonial Life Arena. The back-to-back SEC wins were the first for Carolina since January 2011, when the team defeated Florida by three on the road and Arkansas in double overtime at home.
Freshman Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 22 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Williams added 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Senior guard Trevor Releford scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Crimson Tide after only scoring two in the first half.
In a back and forth opening 10 minutes, that saw plenty of defensive pressure that resulted in seven total blocks, freshman guard Jaylen Shaw came off of the bench and connected from beyond the arc at the 9:41 to give the Gamecocks a 12-11 lead. Thornwell followed that with a runner to push the lead to three.
After a layup from Alabama's Nick Jacobs, Shaw hit his second 3-pointer of the half to ignite a 7-0 spurt to give the Gamecocks a 21-13 advantage with under five minutes to play in the half.
With 1:23 left, Thornwell increased his first-half total to nine with a 3 from the top of the key. Eleven seconds later, Thornwell found sophomore forward Brian Steele on the backdoor for a layup to close the half with a 28-19 lead.
The Gamecocks held the Crimson Tide to 25 percent (5-20) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, as they in turn shot 44 percent (11-25). The 19 first-half points is the least allowed for the Gamecocks since the opener this season.
Despite Releford converting on an and-one to start the, Carolina responded by out-scoring the Alabama 11-5 over the next three-plus minutes. Williams scored poured in five points in the spurt on back-to-back field goals. The stretch pushed the lead to 12 with 16:20 on the clock.
A 3-pointer for Alabama from Levi Randolph in the corner with the shot clock expiring brought the Gamecocks' lead back under double-digits.
The Crimson Tide continued to close the gap, bringing it within three with an 8-1 run after getting 3s from Randolph and Releford. Sophomore forward Laimonas Chatkevicius ended the run with a jumper in the lane after being fouled, but he was unable to convert on the free throw attempt.
Over the following minutes, Alabama closed its deficit to one and kept it there after going from 6-of-6 from the foul line during a minute stretch.
A full court pass from Thornwell to sophomore forward Mindaugas Kacinas for an open layup increased the lead to three, but a 3 from Releford at the top of key tied up the game. That 3-pointer started a stretch of three-straight 3s from the Crimson tied as they took a 60-56 lead with just under four minutes remaining.
A back-door lob from Thornwell to sophomore forward Michael Carrera then brought the deficit to two. On the ensuing possession Releford went left and drove to the basket, but Carrera slid in and took the charge as the senior guard picked up his fourth foul with three minutes to go.
Thornwell tied it up a minute later with a floater in the lane, but Releford scored on a layup on the following possession after drawing a foul, but the guard was unable to convert the attempt.
Alabama drove hard to basket with just over a minute remaining, but Carrera and Kacinas converged to come up with a key block. Thornwell took the ball the length of the court, beat his defender, and dropped in a runner to give the Gamecocks a 63-62 lead with one-minute showing on the clock.
On the other end, Alabama guard Rodney Cooper, who had gone 4-of-4 from the line on the day, was fouled. The junior missed the first, but hit the second to level the game. On Carolina's ensuing possession, Carrera backed himself into the paint, put up a hook shot that appeared to be headed in, but bounced out at the last second. Kacinas, though, out-jumped the Alabama defenders surrounding him and tipped in the miss.
Down two and with the ball in front of its bench, the Tide found Releford at the top of the key on the inbound pass. The senior rose up and let the attempt go, but the ball got stuck between the rim and backboard. The possession arrow was in favor of the Gamecocks.
With 5.8 seconds on the clock, Thornwell was sent to the foul line. The freshman sank the first and rimmed in the second to extend the lead to four. Releford hit his fourth 3 of the game at the buzzer, but it wasn't enough as Carolina came away with the victory, 67-66.
South Carolina went 23-of-47 (48.9 percent) from the field, while Alabama was 18-of-43 (41.9 percent). The Gamecocks dominated the paint doubling the Crimson Tide's total, 32-16, as well as holding a 15-6 edge in fast break points.
Despite only scoring four points, and fouling out late in the game, freshman guard Duane Notice led the team six assists. Carrera led the Gamecocks on the glass with seven rebounds to go with eight points. For Thornwell, the 22 points on the day was his fifth game in SEC play in which he has scored 20 points or more, tying South Carolina's all-time leading scorer B.J. McKie's mark during his freshman season.
The Gamecocks will hit the road this week as the travel to Arkansas for a clash with the Razorbacks on Wednesday night. Tipoff is schedule for 9 p.m. ET, and will broadcast on CSS.
Late Surge Sends Razorbacks Past LSU
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Playing in front of nearly 30 members from the program’s six Final Four teams and the former President of the United States Bill Clinton, the Arkansas men’s basketball team used a 12-2 run late in the second half and a 10-for-17 performance from three-point land to defeat LSU, 81-70, in front of a crowd of 18,904 on Saturday inside a raucous Bud Walton Arena.
Junior Rashad Madden (@RKMadden00) led the way for the Razorbacks with his fourth 20-point game in SEC play as he combined with senior Coty Clarke (@CTC_4) to score 29 of the Razorbacks’ 44 points in the second half to out-score the Tigers 44-37 in the final frame.
The duo was never more important than during the game-changing 12-2 run that followed a 7-0 LSU spurt. Trailing 57-54 with 10:13 to play, Arkansas’ 12-2 run was finished off by back-to-back three-pointers from Clarke and Madden that resulted in a 66-59 lead with 5:32 remaining.
Over the final five minutes, Madden controlled the pace at the offensive end, as LSU was forced to foul due to facing a three-possession deficit. Madden was the only Razorback to shoot free throws down the stretch, hitting 8-of-10 in the final five minutes to seal a third win in the last four games for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas now stands at 16-9 overall and 5-7 in the SEC, while LSU’s (6-6) SEC record evens at 6-6.
All 16 of Clarke’s points came in the second half after playing just three minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. Freshman Bobby Portis (@BPortisTime) just missed a double-double with 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Sophomore Michael Qualls (@Mr_WalkOnAir) rounded out the double figure scorers with 12 of his 13 in the first half.
No. 3 Florida Wins at No. 14 Kentucky, 69-59
WHAT HAPPENED: A rough first half gave way to a richly satisfying second, as Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin put the third-ranked Gators on their backs and ran away from 14th-ranked Kentucky with a blistering second period that silenced more than 24,000 at sold-out Rupp Arena. Prather poured in 24 points, going 8-for-9 from the floor, while Wilbekin added a career-high 23, thanks to 11-for-12 from the free-throw line. After a poor-shooting first half, UF hit 64 percent after the break, including two huge 3-point shots - one from Wilbekin, one from Michael Frazier II. For the Wildcats, the loss was just their third in 84 home games for Coach John Calipari, now in his fifth season.
WHAT IT MEANS: Florida seized a commanding three-game lead on the Wildcats in the Southeastern Conference, remaining unbeaten through 12 games in league play. The win was UF’s 17th straight, improving the Gators to 6-0 on the road against SEC foes. Florida is now 9-48 at Lexington and 4-18 under Coach Billy Donovan, with wins in 1998, 2006, 2007 and now 2014.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wilbekin is now the front-runner for SEC Player of the Year. Make that two straight games the senior point guard has set career highs for points, after scoring 21 in a huge road win at Tennessee on Tuesday. Wilbekin set the tone of the UF offense and played his usual spectacular defense on the other end.
STAGGERING STATISTIC: Maybe it shouldn’t be so staggering since cold spells on offense have become a trend with this team. The Gators made just one of their first 11 shots from 3-point range, with Frazier and Dorian Finney-Smith both bricking their first three from distance. But Frazier and Wilbekin’s treys came at huge times in the second half, which certainly counts for something.
SUBPLOT: Finney-Smith continued to struggle to put the ball in the basket, going 4-for-10 overall and 0-for-3 from the arc. But he finished with eight points and five rebounds, including a huge offensive carom that he fed to Frazier for his timely 3. He was a huge lift off the bench.
UP NEXT: The Gators (23-2, 12-0) will be back at home for just their second Wednesday game of the SEC season when Auburn (12-11, 4-8) comes to the O’Connell Center. The Gators defeated the Tigers 68-61 on the road Jan. 18. Auburn defeated Mississippi State 92-82 Saturday behind a combined 56 points from the backcourt of Chris Denson and KT Harrell.