There were more upsets last night with Oklahoma State blowing the doors off of Kansas and Georgetown knocking off Xavier, but by slim margins there were no such unexpected winners in SEC basketball.
The closest of the games was South Carolina fending off Ole Miss 77-74 in overtime. The Rebels defended their home court well despite it being the first game without Sebastian Saiz, who's now out indefinitely after getting a detached retina repaired. The turning point happened with around five minutes to go with the home team nursing a 64-53 lead. Stefan Moody, who'd scored 20 points by then, hurt his hamstring. Though he stayed in the game, he wasn't the same and didn't attempt another shot, much less score another point.
The Gamecocks closed the second half with a 13-2 run to force overtime with the score knotted at 66. Ole Miss made South Carolina work for it, never allowing the Gamecocks to lead by more than four, but a Duane Notice three pointer with 4:05 to go in extra time gave Carolina a lead it never relinquished.
There was considerable drama in Gainesville where Florida flirted with disaster before defeating Mississippi State 81-78. The first half was a back and forth affair, but an 18-5 Bulldog run fueled by 11 points from I.J. Ready and capped by a Fred Thomas triple at the buzzer gave State a 42-37 halftime lead. MSU extended the lead from five to nine over the first five minutes of the second half, but UF's superior talent took over and broke off a 24-5 run over about an eight and a half minute span.
Ben Howland's bunch hung in there though, and Craig Sword scored scored seven straight points to pull within one with 3:45 to go. John Egbunu scored six of his 16 points down the stretch from there, and questionable shot selection with the lead helped doom the Bulldogs' effort. MSU had a chance after Justin Leon missed a pair of foul shots with 18 seconds on the clock, but Ready missed a jumper and KeVaughn Allen made a pair of charity tosses with two seconds to go to ice the game.
One game that didn't end closely was Texas A&M's contest, in which the Aggies rode a second half surge past LSU 71-57. The first half was close throughout, with neither team enjoying more than a four point lead except for a six point Aggie advantage that lasted all of five seconds. And though A&M took a 38-34 lead into intermission, LSU took an early second half lead that made it look like this one might be close to the end.
TAMU's defense smothered the Tigers through the middle ten minutes of the half, though, allowing them to turn a 44-44 game with 15:30 on the clock into a 66-52 game with 4:26 to go. Jalen Jones's 20 and Tyler Davis's 18 points did the most damage for A&M, which did an excellent job at holding Ben Simmons to ten points on 3-of-9 shooting. It was just the latest disappointing result for LSU, which really could've used a big win. Texas A&M showed itself the much better team, and it held on to its lead in the conference standings.
In the night's final contest, Auburn secured consecutive SEC wins under Bruce Pearl for the first time with an 83-77 win over Alabama. Cinmeon Bowers lead the way for the Tigers with an impressive 20 points and 18 boards, while Bama's Retin Obasohan led all scorers with 27.