Read away that hangover you picked up from South Carolina’s loss with a quick recap of last night’s games and a preview of today’s SEC Final Four slate of tournament basketball:
Georgia kept the first two contests close with Kentucky, but Friday’s game was not quite as competitive. Even with Malik Monk having a notably bad game, the Wildcats got dual 20-point games by Isaiah Briscoe and DeAaron Fox to make up the ground. Meanwhile Georgia couldn’t get either Yeante Maden or JJ Frazier going, as the two combined to shoot 7-28. If the Bulldogs couldn’t get either of their two best players going, they never stood much of a chance in the first place.
South Carolina’s late season slump continued yesterday afternoon when Alabama beat the Gamecocks 64-53 to move on to the semifinals in Avery Johnson’s second year as head coach. 2016 SEC Sixth Man of the Year Duane Notice played 31 minutes and scored zero points for South Carolina, while Alabama got a game-high 18 points from Braxton Key. The Tide outrebounded South Carolina 43-28 and led for all but 40 seconds of the game. It’s now back to back years that the Gamecocks have been one-and-done in the SEC tournament.
Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe it’s a legit match up problem, but Vanderbilt has simply had Florida’s number this season. Not once, but twice but now three times Vanderbilt has taken down Florida — this round in overtime to advance to the semifinals against Arkansas. The Commodores shot a perfect 5-5 in overtime to outdo Florida’s 1-6 clip as Vandy’s Riley LaChance led all scorers with 18 points — including the dagger three with 2:18 left in overtime to seal the game.
Even with the Vanderbilt-Florida game going into overtime, the nightcap of the quarterfinals was absolutely the most competitive game of Friday’s action. Despite Sebastian Saiz and Deandre Burrnett combining to go 8-26, Ole Miss still found a way to lead Arkansas as late as 1:45 left in the game. In the end it was three point shooting (41.2 percent) that made the difference for the Razorbacks, who got 17 key bench points from Daryl Macon.
Game 11: (1) Kentucky Wildcats vs. (5) Alabama Crimson Tide | 1pm ET
Alabama played Kentucky 38 points even in the second half, but a dominant first half combination of Bam Adebayo and Malik Monk helped Kentucky edge the Tide 68-59 in Tuscaloosa the last time these two teams played. Both of these squads are coming off fairly convincing wins in their quarterfinal games, and Kentucky should be a healthy favorite coming into this afternoon’s game. However if Alabama could find a way to win, they’d have a case to make a late tournament push.
Who to watch: Alabama’s Braxton Key is fresh off an 18 point, seven rebound game against South Carolina and scored 21 against Kentucky back on Feb. 11. For Kentucky, Bam Adebayo is coming off a double-double (13 points, 10 boards) against Georgia and had a 14 points, seven rebound game against Alabama earlier.
The winner plays: The better of game 12, Vanderbilt or Arkansas
Game 12: (7) Vanderbilt Commodores vs. (3) Arkansas Razorbacks | 3:30pm ET
These two teams split their regular season series is much different fashions. On Jan. 25 Arkansas was down by as many as 15 but got a foul with one second left to let Daryl Macon sink three free throws for the win. In the second game Vandy trounced Arkansas by 13 and never trailed the entire game. Vanderbilt has the “team of destiny” feel to them as they make a late NCAA tournament push, but Arkansas is looking to get back to their second SEC title game in the last three years.
Who to watch: Arkansas guard Jaylen Barford has put up double-digit scoring figures in his last six games, where he’s a perfect 21-21 from the free throw line. For Vanderbilt Riley LaChance is fresh off a huge game against Florida and is averaging 15.5 points during the SEC tournament while shooting 53.3 percent from three.
The winner plays: The winner of game 11, Kentucky or Alabama.