Ole Miss 82, Alabama 74
Despite trailing by three at the half, Ole Miss shook off its recent struggles and surged past Alabama to stabilize its status and hang onto its tournament chances.
The hero of the night for the Rebels was, as it so often is, Stefan Moody. He poured in 25 points, including going 13-for-14 from the free throw line, while still finding opportunities to lead all players with seven assists. He go backup from Ladarius White scoring 19 and Aaron Jones scoring 10 points, each off the bench. It was a pretty clean game for Ole Miss, with it turning Bama over about twice as many times as it coughed it up. The Rebels also shot a nice 47.4% from the floor, which could've been higher if not for the Crimson Tide defense blocking five shots.
Losing to Georgia and LSU last week was disappointing, even if those teams' quality prevented the losses from doing irreparable damage to the Rebels' resume. Losing this one would have been far worse, even if it wouldn't be a sub-100 RPI loss. It would have created a real sense of a late season slide instead of last week just being a case of losing close games to peers. Andy Kennedy steadied the ship with this win, and it will continue cruising if he can get another win over Vandy on Saturday.
Florida 66, Texas A&M 62
The Aggies scored the first 10 points of this game, but the Gators outscored them by 14 the rest of the way to deal a blow to A&M's tournament chances.
How did it end up like this? For one, Florida's guards did an unprecedented job of guarding TAMU's leading scorer Danuel House. He missed all 10 of his field goal attempts and failed to score for the first time all season. A&M was lax with the ball in turning it over 16 times, though UF had 14 turnovers of its own. The Gators nearly gave this thing away down the stretch, making just five of 14 free throw attempts during a stretch in the final two minutes. With the lead down to 63-60, UF finally made three-of-four from the charity stripe to salt the game away.
The loss isn't a complete disaster, as Florida was 83rd in the RPI heading into the contest. It won't go down as a sub-100 loss, and avoiding losses of that class is the strongest argument for NCAA Tournament inclusion that the Aggies have. Still though, it's not an encouraging start to the stretch run. A&M must avoid getting swept by Alabama on Saturday to feel good about its dancing chances.
Kentucky 72, Georgia 64
The Wildcats overcame a hostile road environment and a nine-point second half deficit to remain unbeaten and dash Georgia's hopes of scoring the year's biggest upset.
Though UK would have some leads in the first half, UGA never went away in this one. It was tied at the half, and the Bulldogs worked up a 56-47 lead with nine minutes to play. UK battled back, but it wasn't until the final 5:35 that the Wildcats really put it away. They responded to a six-point Georgia lead with a 16-2 run to close this one out, and Karl-Anthony Towns was the biggest factor in the second half with 17 points after the break.
Georgia pushed Kentucky about as hard as anyone has, but the regular season champs finished like champs while UGA did things like miss the front half of three one-and-ones in a row. Those things matter when trying to take down the nation's best team, and the Bulldogs just didn't quite play well enough to pull it off. The win would have made UGA a tournament lock, but losing so closely to the No. 1 team won't hurt the team a bit.