The second round of the SEC Tournament was exciting and unpredictable, and it set up a big quarterfinal round.
In the first game of the day, the Florida Gators gutted out a 68-61 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive for another day. UF led most of the game, although it didn't build up a double digit lead until nearly four minutes into the second half. The Hogs never gave up, and a Dusty Hannahs layup with 1:08 to go cut the Gator lead to just 60-59. Kasey Hill responded with a layup of his own on the next possession, and Florida outscored Arkansas 6-2 in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.
Hannahs was everything for the Razorbacks, scoring over half of the team's points with 33 in the game. Moses Kingsley had a double-double with ten points and ten boards. Hill was the Gators' top man with 18 points, while Dorian Finney-Smith had 13 points and nine rebounds. John Egbunu had eight and nine off the bench in 24 minutes despite tearing a ligament in his hand in practice this week. Florida will play 1-seed Texas A&M in the next round.
Next up came the biggest upset of the day, as the Tennessee Volunteers earned a 67-65 win against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy started poorly and trailed by a dozen at halftime, but it played much better in the second half. The 'Dores eventually even gained the lead at 57-56 with 4:18 to go. Robert Hubbs III took the lead back for good with a shot at the 2:04 mark, although a Matthew Fisher-Davis triple cut the Vols' lead to two with nine seconds left.
UT's Derek Mostella missed the front half of a one-and-one twice after, with an offensive rebound in between. It looked like after the second miss that Wade Baldwin IV nailed a layup at the buzzer to send it to overtime, but replay showed that the ball hadn't left his hand before the red light went on.
Montella led the Volunteers with 18 points off the bench, while Armani Moore led the starters with 14. Baldwin's 13 points was the most for the Commodores, while Fisher-Davis and Damian Jones each had 12. Vanderbilt's NCAA Tournament hopes are now deeply in question. The team had played its way onto the right side of the bubble down the stretch, but taking a loss to a low RPI team in Tennessee has thrown it into question. The Vols, for their part, have earned a match with LSU in the quarterfinals.
The third game of the day was an upset by seeding, as the Alabama Crimson Tide knocked off the Ole Miss Rebels 81-73. The game stayed within the single digits most of the way, although Bama pulled away a little towards the end. The Tide couldn't get too far ahead because it missed a lot of free throws down the stretch, but Ole Miss countered by not making many field goals either.
Stefan Moody did his best to carry his team with 39 points, including eight three pointers. Only Tomasz Gielo also reached double digits for the Rebels with 11. Alabama had a more balanced effort. Retin Obasohan led the Tide with 17 points, Riley Norris put in 16, and both Arthur Edwards and Justin Coleman contributed 15. Bama will now get the unenviable task of facing Kentucky in the next round.
To close out the night, the Georgia Bulldogs used a late surge to put away the Mississippi State Bulldogs 79-69. UGA dominated the last six minutes of the first half to turn a tie game into an eight point edge at the break, but it was unable to pull away. MSU battled throughout the second half and cut the lead to as little as four points at 72-68 with a pair of Fred Thomas free throws at the 4:14 mark. Georgia's defense cut off the Mississippi State momentum, though, and J.J. Frazier and Kenny Gaines made free throws in the final 1:06 to keep the Starkville Bulldogs at bay.
Frazier had 28 to lead all scorers, while Yante Maten put in 20 points with eight boards. Craig Sword led MSU with 19 points, while Thomas had 17 off the bench. Georgia's defense held MSU to just 37% shooting, and it let Gavin Ware score just two points. UGA will now move on to face South Carolina, a team it swept in the regular season.