BLOG — Here in the New Orleans Arena watching LSU tangle with Arkansas in the first game of the 2012 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.Ole Miss, the No. 7 seed in the tournament, plays tonight against No. 10 Auburn. Tipoff is set at 6:30. No. 6 seed Mississippi State (21-10, 8-8) and No. 11 Georgia (14-16) follow in the nightcap at approximately 9. Alabama, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 12 South Carolina in the afternoon game. All of the games are on the SEC Network. Attendance for today’s first sesson was 10,703.
The winner between the Rebels and the Tigers will meet No. 2 Tennessee (18-13) on Friday at 6:30. Ole Miss lost 73-60 to the Volunteers on Feb. 22 in Knoxville. Auburn also lost to the Volunteers this season. Tennessee has won eight of its last nine games heading into the tournament. The Vols finished the year with a 10-6 mark in the SEC.
As many of you know by know, Ole Miss will be without the services of G Jelan Kendrick for the tournament, which means more work for LaDarius “Snoop” White off the bench and more minutes for starting point guard Jarvis Summers, who enters his first SEC Tournament averaging 9.8 points and 3.2 assists per contest.
Stay tuned to the blog and my twitter account, oxfordeagljd, for updates on all the games during the day.
LSU 70, Arkansas 54
The game was tied at 28 at the half. Mardracus Wade led Arkansas with nine points. Ralston Turner and Storm Warren each had seven points for the Tigers.
Second Half: Tigers Surge
Led by the inside play of Johnny O’Bryant, LSU started to pound the Razorbacks and ended up posting the 16-point win over the Razorbacks. LSU (18-13) will now play No. 1 seed Kentucky on Friday at noon. Bryant, a native of Cleveland, led LSU with 18 points and 11 assists in the victory over the Razorbacks, who fell to 18-14.
Five Tigers ended up scoring in double figures. Warren doubled his first half point total to finish with 14 while Jackson native Andre Stringer finished with 11 points. Justin Hamilton and Turner finished with 10 points apiece. BJ Young was the only Arkansas to finish in double figures with 13. LSU outscored Arkansas 42-26 in the second half and outrebounded Arkansas 41-28 in the win.
No. 5 Alabama 63, No. 12 South Carolina 57
Starting lineup for Alabama included Trevor Releford, JaMychal Green, Nick Jacobs, Levi Randolph and Andrew Steele. South Carolina countered with Anthony Gill, Malik Cooke, Bruce Ellington, Damontre Harris and Damien Leonard.
Alabama took a 37-26 lead at the half thanks to strong defense and an inside game led by Jacobs and Green. The Crimson Tide and Gamecocks struggled to score in the early going but after Alabama broke a 9-9 tie with just over 11 minutes left in the first half, it was able to outscore USC 28-17 the rest of the way. Alabama finished the first half shooting 14-for-27 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Jacobs led the Crimson Tide with eight points, while Green had seven. A total of seven Alabama players had scored at least two points in the first half. Damien Leonard’s nine points topped USC’s scoring ledger.
South Carolina flipped the script on Alabama in the early going to gain the momentum and keep this contest close all the way through the final 20 minutes of play. The Gamecocks (10-21) were within two points (55-53) with 1:30 left in the contest before Alabama’s Trevor Lacey put one of the final daggers in with a made 3-pointer with 57.8 seconds.
The Gamecocks made two free throws following Lacey’s trey and were able to tie up Releford in the backcourt to regain possession with 43 seconds on the clock. South Carolina then missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game. Alabama kept its lead at two possessions by making five of six free throws down the stretch. Alabama’s win improved them to 21-10 and made an even stronger case to make the NCAA Tournament as at-large team. Up next is No. 4 seed Florida at 2:30 Friday.
Lacey ended up leading Alabama with 15 points. Green had 12, while Jacobs finished with 10. Leonard and Ellington both scored 13 points to lead USC. (March 8, 2012)