SEC Tournament: Day 3 roundup

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae shoots against South Carolina forward Michael Carrera during the second half of an SEC Tournament quarterfinal game in Atlanta on Friday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Published: Friday, March 14, 2014 at 6:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 at 6:24 p.m.

ATLANTA — Forget that Florida has won 24 straight games, is No. 1 in the country and has won its last four games by an average of 19 points.

Tennessee has done the most to impress Frank Martin lately.

“I told my assistants (Thursday) night, I think they're playing better than anyone in the league right now,” said the South Carolina coach. “If you had said to me what team would you rather not play in the tournament, it would have been Tennessee.”

This was after the Vols had won their fifth straight game by eliminating South Carolina 59-44 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks ended their season after winning two games in two days but didn't have anything left.

They shot 27 percent from the field in the game and couldn't overcome Jarnell Stokes, who had 22 points and 15 rebounds.

The win for Tennessee probably keeps the Vols from having to play in a First Four game in the NCAA Tournament. It also set up a third game this season with Florida in the semifinals.

Florida has beaten the Vols twice.

“I feel like at the end of games, especially the one down in Gainesville, they wanted it more,” Stokes said. “It's a great opportunity to see with how well we're playing how it will play out against Florida.”

Stokes had success against the Gators this season even though the Vols did not. He had 16 points and 11 rebounds in a 26-point loss in Gainesville and 20 points with 11 rebounds in a nine-point loss in Knoxville.

Florida's win in Knoxville was fueled by Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who had 21 points and six assists in the game.

“There are a lot of parts at both ends for Florida,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. “The last three or four minutes of that game, I thought he took over the game. He won the battle at that position.”

Tennessee, now 21-11 on the season, received 14 points from Jordan McRae against South Carolina and outscored the Gamecocks in the paint 32-18.

“We didn't come here to win one game,” Cuonzo Martin said. “We came here to win the tournament.”

KENTUCKY 85, LSU 67: James Young scored 21 points, Willie Cauley-Stein led a dominating performance in the middle with six blocks and Kentucky pulled away to beat LSU in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.

The Wildcats (23-9) closed the regular season with three losses in their last four games, prompting coach John Calipari to switch things up at practice and beseech his team to find “its mojo.” His talented group of freshmen heeded the call.

Kentucky took control with a 23-3 run in the first half, withstood a rally by the LSU (19-13), and pulled away with the sort of dominating performance expected from a team that some thought could win every game.

Cauley-Stein teamed with fellow 7-footer Dakari Johnson to give the Wildcats a presence in the lane the Tigers simply could not match. Johnson had 9 points, 11 rebounds and three of Kentucky's 11 blocks.

GEORGIA 75, OLE MISS 73: Jarvis Summers missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, ending the Rebels’ tournament run.

Charles Mann led Georgia with 16 points as the Bulldogs advanced to play Kentucky today in the semifinals.

Marshall Henderson scored 19 points, but needed 21 shots to get there. Henderson made only 2 of his 16 3-point attempts in the loss.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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