Pleasantries first: the homestanding Tigers pulled it out 89-85. Ben Simmons and Tim Quarterman each scored 22 points, while J.J. Frazier led all scorers with 26. LSU led 80-69 with a minute to go, but a combination of sharp shooting from Georgia and LSU missing free throws let a Frazier three pointer cut the lead to just 84-83 with 28 second left. Keith Hornsby and Antonio Blakeney made three-of-four foul shots from there, while E'Torrion Wilridge missed a potential game tying shot with nine ticks on the clock.
But all of that is almost incidental. This game belonged to Karl Hess, and King Karl ruled it with an iron fist. The refs called a combined 55 fouls in the game: 33 on UGA, and 22 on LSU. Three Bulldogs fouled out, and three more picked up four fouls each. LSU shot an amazing 55 (!) free throws, connecting on 37 of them. Georgia only shot 24, making 15 of them. Hess is one of those guys who think people go to basketball games to watch the officials, and he and his crew put on a show.
The game that finished with a one-point margin was the Vanderbilt Commodores edging the Florida Gators 60-59. A combination of good defense and poor shooting from the Gators was a major factor, as UF shot a season low 32.9% from the field and finished the first half with only 19 points. Vandy maintained a double digit lead throughout most of the second half, but Florida made a furious comeback attempt at the end. KeVaughn Allen made three triples in the final 33 seconds to cut the lead down, but one of them came after Wade Baldwin iced it with a pair of free throws that pushed the lead to four with seven seconds to go.
The Alabama Crimson Tide picked up its second conference win on the year by rallying late to beat the collapsing Tennessee Volunteers 63-57. The Vols held a 55-47 lead with a bit over four minutes to go, but Bama closed with a 16-2 run to pull out the win. Retin Obasohan scored nine of the 16 down the stretch, and the Tide defense held Kevin Punter to just 15 points on 14 field goal attempts.
Finally, the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 84-74 in the night's only game that fit a conventional script and didn't involve late-game fireworks. Carolina wasn't ever able to pull away from State, but the game also wasn't in much doubt at the end either. Michael Carrera's career high of 34 points to go with 15 boards led the victors, while I.J. Ready's 20 points paced the Bulldogs.