As was the case on Day 2 of the SEC tournament we had 4 games of SEC basketball to enjoy, dependent on your point of view.
#1 Florida (72) - #8 Mizzou (49)
In the day's first game our Tigers of Ol' MIzzou took on the Gators of Florida, and if you just watched the first half you would have been very happy, but even the SEC requires you to play two halves. Florida made it rain threes all over our Tigers in the first half and then stepped up the D in the second half going on many, many runs to end Mizzou's time in Atlanta.
The second half went exactly as Florida would've liked, and got the Gators a blowout 72-49 win in Friday's SEC Tournament quarterfinal, their first game as the 2014 SEC champions.
Florida started the second half on a 7-0 run. It responded to a 9-2 run by Missouri that cut its lead to two points with a 7-0 run that took 46 seconds — one spurred by a Scottie Wilbekin steal that turned into a Scottie Wilbekin three — and turned that run into a 14-2 run, then a 21-4 run. The 43-20 scoring margin in the second could've been significantly larger had Florida let its starters finish the game; Missouri scored 11 of its 20 second half points in the final 4:25 of play.
Wilbekin literally ripped the ball away from a Missouri player at one point, and got credit for a steal. Walking away from that play, he pounded his chest, roaring "THAT'S MY BALL."
Rock M Nation had a post game thread where you can imagine the important things were discussed like cake vs pie and if it was baseball season or merely early early Football Season. You were there so you don't need me to remind you.
03/14/2014 Missouri vs Florida Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
#4 Tennessee (59) - #13 South Carolina (44)
Tennessee kept its winning streak going (hitting 5 now) as they choked the life out of the Gamecocks who let's be honest we were all rooting for to blow up this bracket and really inject some crazy into the SEC tournament. We do thank them for taking Arkansas out however. Jarnell Stokes put up 22 while the Gamecocks couldn't buy a basket.
The Vols were a little rusty on the offensive end after five days off, but their defense didn't take a vacation. Tennessee held South Carolina to 27.1% from the floor, knocking off the Gamecocks 59-44 and moving on to face #1 Florida tomorrow.
This win should lock up Tennessee's bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Vols moved a couple notches up to 42 in RPI, and other bubbles burst for Florida State, Missouri, and possibly Nebraska. The hope here is the Vols have also played their way out of the First Four in Dayton, though we'll have to wait for Sunday on that one.
After a fun couple of days that included wins over Auburn and Arkansas, the Gamecocks finally succumbed to the gauntlet that is the SEC Tournament stepladder, falling to the well-rested and very good Tennessee Volunteers, 59-44. With the loss, the Gamecocks finished the season with a 14-20 record.
03/14/2014 South Carolina vs Tennessee Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
#2 Kentucky (85) - #7 LSU (67)
Kentucky smothered any chance LSU had with a massive run in the first half that put the game completely out of reach. Julius Randle was a beast on the inside notching a double double and the Harrison twins put up double figures in scoring. Kentucky looked quite good and if they can maintain this effort going forward (a tall task for a team of youngsters) could end up looking like the preseason #1 team they were billed to be.
Welcome to the new season, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation! Darn happy to be here, and so are you. For the first time in a long time, I get to write a celebration article without having to equivocate or explain. You saw it. You know it. You love it. For perhaps the first time this season, Kentucky showed us what we've been hoping to see all year. About. Freaking. Time.
And the Valley Shook had a sparsely attended game thread, I think they've moved on to baseball...
03/14/2014 LSU vs Kentucky Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
#3 Georgia (75) - #6 Ole Miss (73)
From a purely enjoyable basketball game watching experience, the night cap of day 3 was the Georgia - Ole Miss game that went down to the buzzer. Charles Mann (no relation to former NFLer of the same name) got a put back with less than 20 second left to seal the deal in a game that featured the reffing you would expect from an SEC officiated game, thousands and thousand of free throws. This game also featured the other side of the coin of everyone's favorite troll, Marshall Henderson. 19 points only hitting five shots and going 2 for 16 on threes, high risk, high reward.
Games like Friday night's are what March is all about. The Georgia Bulldogs survived with a hard fought 75-73 win over Ole Miss to advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. Georgia will take on the No. 2 seed Kentucky Saturday afternoon.
Friday's game was reminiscent of the regular season matchup between Georgia and Ole Miss. The Bulldogs fell behind early but it was nip and tuck for most of the evening with 17 ties and 20 lead changes. The last lead change came with just 17 seconds remaining as Charles Mann put Georgia in front for good with a driving layup.
In an ugly, back-and-forth affair last night in the Georgia Dome, the Ole Miss Rebels fell to the Georgia Bulldogs 75-73 in the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament. Much to the delight of nobody, the game was significantly marred and slowed by touchy officiating, by which there were a stunning 51 personal fouls called between the two teams. Sebastian Saiz and Dwight Coleby both fouled out, while Jarvis Summers, Aaron Jones, and Anthony Perez all notched four.
Basically, it became a long, drawn out game of H-O-R-S-E, a game that the Rebs weren't going to win with Marshall Henderson having gone completely cold. Statistically, it was Henderson's worst night as an Ole Miss Rebel. He was only 5-of-21 from the floor and 2-of-16 from beyond the three point arc. Jarvis Summers also struggled from three, missing all four of his attempts and a last-second shot that could have swung the game to the Rebels.
03/14/2014 Mississippi vs Georgia Men's Basketball HIghlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
The Final 4 is Here!!!!
#1 Florida vs #4 Tennessee - 1:00 pm ET, ABC
In our first of two games on the SEC docket we've got speed and defense versus brawn and defense. Can Tennessee keep their win streak going against Florida's longer win streak? Can Tennessee's defense smother the Gators, or will their streak end as everyone else's has this season? Or does Cuonzo's team shock the SEC and move to Sunday's finals? And if Tennessee loses, do they hire Bruce Pearl, I mean, it's BRUCE PEARL!!!!
The Gators were only tested a handful of times in the SEC, all but one (Auburn's near miss in Gainesville) coming in hostile environments like Fayetteville, Nashville, and definitely Knoxville. The Vols were down 55-54 after a sensational three point play by Jarnell Stokes with 4:32 to go, then got the ball back with a chance to take the lead. But a Jeronne Maymon turnover led to back-to-back dagger threes from Michael Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin, and Florida won the free throw shooting contest down the stretch. Playing well for 36 minutes is not good enough.
What was good enough that day was Tennessee's defense, holding the Gators to 36.2% from the floor. It is the lowest percentage Florida has shot all year and only the fourth time they've shot under 40%. The way Tennessee has been playing recently, that's very good news: bring the effort on the defensive end again, and give yourself a chance to be there in the end again. Our last four opponents have shot 22.4, 37.7, 31.9, and 27.1 percent from the floor. The Vanderbilt, Missouri, and South Carolina numbers are UT's three best defensive performances against division one opponents this year. Our best basketball at the right time.
#2 Kentucky vs. #3 Georgia - 3:00 pm ET, ABC
In the afternoon tilt we've got the surprising Bulldogs taking on the confusing Wildcats. Will Georgia continue to do what they've done once they entered SEC play? Will Kentucky regress to a bunch of players instead of a team? Will Calipari flip out and throw everyone under the bus, or will they keep up the togetherness they developed in yesterday's win over LSU? I guess we'll all find out this afternoon!
Charles Mann put the Bulldogs in front for good with a driving layup with just 17 seconds remaining against the Rebels. The win was Georgia's 19th of the season and despite finishing tied for second in the conference, the Bulldogs still have work to do to gain an berth in the NCAA Tournament.
A Sea of Blue is either still partying or recovering from the partying from last night, so there is no preview to link to.
And that's gonna do it for me concerning SECBASKETBALLFEVER, it's been fun and I hope you've enjoyed it.
Enjoy the games everyone!