Florida 80, LSU 58
Billy Donovan wasn't happy with Florida's efforts down the stretch in the regular season, but he was happy today as the UF team that blows out inferior opponents resurfaced once again. If the Gators play like this twice more, they'll be cutting down some nets because no one in the league can beat them when they do.
Erik Murphy led the way with a career-high 27 points with 12 rebounds to go along with them. He was an efficient 11-15 from the field, including 5-7 from three. Scottie Wilbekin had 16 to back Murphy up. The only point of concern was Kenny Boynton having just two points on 1-7 shooting, but he did have seven assists and helped the team in other ways.
The great Florida defense was back, as evidenced by LSU hitting just a third of its shots from the field. Charles Carmouche was the only Tiger to make it to double digits with 14, while yesterday's dynamic combo of Johnny O'Bryant III and Shavon Coleman combined for only 15 points on 6-16 shooting.
The Gators will play Alabama in the semifinals. Speaking of...
Alabama 58, Tennessee 48
Tennessee's win over Mississippi State kept its March Madness hopes afloat, but Bama took them away for itself by winning here in the tournament quarterfinals. The Tide clamped down on D and ground out a huge win for their tournament chances.
The game was close throughout the first half, with neither team able to take a lead larger than five. Bama cobbled together a four-point edge for halftime, and it would never give that lead up. Both teams had stretches where they didn't score for a couple of minutes, with the low-scoring style favoring Alabama. Tennessee was not totally out of it until the end, but the Vols made just one field goal in the final six minutes and missed their sole free throw attempt in that span.
Levi Randolph paced the Crimson Tide with 15 points, while Trevor Releford contributed 14 points. Nick Jacobs had six points and 12 boards off the bench. Tennessee's best two guards Trae Golden and Jordan McRae only shot 4-20 for 11 points combined. Josh Richardson did lead all scorers with 16, though, and Jarnell Stokes had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Vanderbilt 64, Kentucky 48
The SEC Tournament does have a spoiler, and it wears black and gold. Vanderbilt still hasn't lost a conference tournament game since 2011 as the Commodores knocked off Kentucky in a non-fluky manner.
I say non-fluky because this was not some sort of win that Vandy sniped eBay-style right at the end. VU shot 50%; UK shot 35%. Vandy cashed in at the charity stripe by making 10-of-11; the Wildcats managed to go just 8-of-16. The Commodores had more blocks and fewer turnovers, and they never trailed in the game. They led by 14 at intermission, and they ended up winning by 16. The right team won this contest.
It was a balanced attack from Vanderbilt today, with five players scoring at least nine points. Dai-Jon Parker led the team with 12 points, but Kevin Bright had 10, Rod Odom had nine, and Kedren Johnson and Kyle Fuller each had 10. Only two 'Cats got to double figures, as Archie Goodwin put in 12 points and Kyle Wiltjer contributed 10. The loss today very well could have pushed Big Blue outside the field of 68.
Vanderbilt will now go on to the semifinals to face...
Ole Miss 64, Missouri 62
...the Ole Miss Rebels, who gutted out a dramatic last-minute win over Missouri.
Marshall Henderson shot, grinned, and trolled his way towards a game-high 27 points, but the breakout star at the end was his freshman teammate Derrick Millinghaus. The guard scored 11 of the Rebels final 15 points, the biggest and most clutch performance of his career to date. When Phil Pressey hit a huge three to break a tie with 0:48 on the clock, Millinghaus drilled a triple to tie it right back up. He swished a beautiful floater with five seconds to go, and he disrupted Mizzou's final scoring chance to secure the win on the other end.
But while Ole Miss won the heroics at the end, Missouri had won most of the rest of the game. Prior to the game winning shot, the Rebels' last lead was 11-10, and that ended shortly after the under-12 timeout in the first half. Missouri controlled the middle of the game, leading by as much as 14 at one point. The Tigers just let the game slowly slip away in the final eight minutes as little would fall on its end and Millinghaus lost the ability to miss shots.
It was a disappointing end for a Mizzou team that famously blew a postseason game badly a year ago in the NCAA Tournament. While the Rebels worked hard to cut the lead and eventually win, they got help from a Tiger team that got tight and just couldn't seal the deal. The win puts Ole Miss in pretty decent shape for the Big Dance, though a loss to Vandy could put it back up in the air.