Al Horford registered his first career double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds as Florida doubled-up on Eastern Kentucky, 98-49. Matt Walsh led the Gators with 23 points and Florida hit 55.7 percent from the floor, the sixth time in nine games they hit 50 percent or better from the floor. Florida grabbed a 51-19 lead at the half thanks to a tenacious defense that held EKU to 27.3 percent shooting in the second half. Florida forced 22 turnovers and got steals on 17 of those turnovers, the highest number of turnovers forced by a Gator team since Dec. 18. 2001. David Lee added 12 points and Anthony Roberson 12. Florida grabbed 40-plus rebounds for the third straight game, hauling in a season-high 51. The Gators are now hitting 52.2 percent from the floor on the season and have scored 45+ points in 9-of-18 halves. The Gators have gotten to the foul line 85 times in the last three games and 39 assists in their last two games.UF returns to action Wednesday against Sam Houston State.
Georgia posted its fourth straight victory as sophomore Levi Stukes and freshman Sundiata Gaines teamed up to lead the Bulldogs with 17 points apiece in a 78-67 win over Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs forced 23 turnovers to their own 12. Leading by seven at the half, the Bulldogs built their lead to as much as 13 in the second period. Bethune-Cookman cut the margin to six with just 2:36 remaining on the clock, but Georgia played solid defense down the stretch, allowing just one more basket from the field. The two teams battled closely in the first half, with six ties and six lead changes, before the Bulldogs took over for good with just over five minutes to play in the period. Georgia totaled 16 assists on the night, including a team-high five apiece from Gaines and sophomore forward Steve Newman. Gaines also recorded four steals while Stukes had a team-high six rebounds. Freshmen Channing Toney and Dave Bliss added 15 and 10 points respectively. The Bulldogs play Savannah State at 7 p.m. today in Stegeman Coliseum.
Chuck Hayes scored 18 points and Kelenna Azubuike added 17 as No. 8 Kentucky won its fourth straight game, routing William & Mary 92-47 on Wednesday night. Kentucky (8-1) posted its most lopsided win of the season. The Wildcats' 45-point margin of victory was its largest since a 62-point romp over Vanderbilt on March 5, 2003. Both teams substituted freely, as all but one player who dressed played in the first half. The Wildcats shot 48.7 percent from the field (including 11 dunks) and outrebounded the Tribe 45-28. William & Mary came no closer than 21 points in the second half, and the Wildcats led by as many as 48 points. William & Mary had almost as many turnovers (16) as shots (19) in the first half.
Tre Kelley scored six of his 15 points in overtime and Tarence Kinsey had a career-high 23 points to help lead South Carolina to a 68-65 win over South Carolina State on Wednesday night. Kelley hit one of two foul shots and then scored on a driving layup as the Gamecocks (7-2) scored the first five points of overtime to go up 62-57 with 2:42 left. The Bulldogs (7-3) never got closer than two as Kinsey hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 6.5 seconds to give the Gamecocks their 13th win in as many games against South Carolina State. Carlos Powell finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for South Carolina. Kinsey scored 10 points to spark a 12-0 surge he capped with his second 3-pointer of the run with 3:24 left that gave the Gamecocks their biggest lead to that point at 55-50. The Bulldogs tied the game at 57 with 1:09 remaining. Neither team scored again in regulation. South Carolina is getting used to close games with its last five games decided by 14 points total. The Gamecocks had the lead only once in the first half. South Carolina next plays at Pittsburgh on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The Tennessee Vols return from a seven-day holiday break to host the Nebraska Cornhuskers at 7 p.m. Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols have won four of their last five games and are coming off a 90-49 victory over Campbell Dec. 23 in Knoxville. C.J. Watson led the Vols with a career-high 20 points while tying a school record for 3-point percentage by going 5-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc. UT came within one 3-pointer of tying the school record with 14 triples against the Camels. Scooter McFadgon leads the Vols with 16.0 points per game and is shooting 90 percent (45-of-50) from the free throw line. Freshman Chris Lofton is leading the nation in 3-point percentage (63.3 percent) and ranks second on the team with 12.4 points. C.J. Watson is averaging 12.2 points and a team-high 5.1 assists per game. Tennessee has shot 50 percent or better from the field in four of its last five games. Brandon Crump needs two blocked shots for 100 rejections in his career. Chris Lofton has made 21 of his last 26 (80.8 percent) field goals and 14 of 18 (77.8 percent) 3-pointers. C.J. Watson's 256 career assists are eighth all-time at Tennessee. He needs 22 assists to tie Fred Jenkins (1983-87) for seventh all-time.
Julian Terrell grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds and netted a game-high 16 points to lead Vanderbilt past Appalachian State, 68-51, Dec. 22. It marked Terrell's fourth career double-double effort. Corey Smith added 16 points and nine rebounds. The win over Appalachian State marked Vanderbilt's 20th consecutive non-conference home victory. The Commodores grabbed 55 rebounds in the win - a single-game high for the Stallings era. Mario Moore tallied 11 points to post his 16th consecutive double-digit performance. Vanderbilt has held five of its seven home foes this season under 60 points, including its last four. VU's bench has outscored the opposition's reserves 125-53 over its last three games. The Commodores play the fourth game in their current six-game homestand Dec. 29 against Dayton. Dan Cage scored a career-high 18 points and Vanderbilt used a strong defensive effort to beat Central Michigan on Monday night, 86-54. Mario Moore had 12 points and six assists while Corey Smith had 12 points and seven rebounds for Vanderbilt. Freshman Alex Gordon tallied 13 points, including four 3-pointers. Vanderbilt hit a season-high 15 3-pointers.
Next up for the Tide is a trip to Madison, Wisc., where it plays the Top 25 ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Wednesday in a 6:30 p.m. CT game televised on ESPN2. On December 22 Alabama hosted Texas A&M Corpus Christi, a team that's been receiving votes in both polls for the past three weeks and broke the Islanders' five-game win streak with Bama's 76-54 win. The UA win was led by junior forward Kennedy Winston's 24 points and 12 rebounds, his third double-double of the season and the fifth time in 11 games this season where he's scored 20 or more points. Earnest Shelton scored his 1000th career point in the Texas A&M Corpus Christi game. He leads Alabama in scoring this season at 19.0 points per game, including the 19 he scored against TAMUCC. For the fourth straight game and the fifth time this season, Mark Gottfried's UA team held its opponent to under 40 percent shooting from the field. The streak includes Alabama State, Temple, Tennessee State and TAMUCC. Alabama rings in the new year on January 1, 2005 with a 6 p.m. home game against New Orleans then opens SEC play on the road at Vanderbilt on January 5th.
Arkansas is 10-1, marking the first time in school history the Razorbacks have won 10 games before Christmas. The 10-1 start is also the best for UA in 10 years, since the 1995 club began the season 11-1. In Thursday's 87-55 win against Hartford, the Hogs made 13-of-20 three-pointers for a percentage of .650, which is the third-best single-game mark in school history. Arkansas has now recorded three of the top four single-game three-point percentages in school history this season. Arkansas tied the mark of .667 (8-12) against Prairie View A&M. In the season-opening win over Winthrop, UA made 11-of-17 for a percentage of .647, which is the fourth-best mark. Arkansas is receiving votes in the Associated Press poll for the fourth straight week. Prior to this season, UA had not been listed in the rankings since December of the 2001 season. Arkansas rolled to an 87-55 victory on Thursday over Hartford. For the game, Ronnie Brewer had 23 points in 23 minutes. He made nine-of-12 shots, including three-of-four threes, and added five rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocked shots.
Tournament MVP Toney Douglas scored a game-high 23 points and Nathan Watson had his second career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, but they couldn't offset Auburn's (8-4) season-high 25 turnovers in a 68-65 loss to Toledo (3-5) in the San Juan Shootout on Wednesday. Auburn, which lost for the first time in 12 games in Puerto Rico, still gained its fourth tournament title on the island (1995, 1999, 2002. 2004), this time with point differential. Auburn, Middle Tennessee State and Toledo each went 2-1 in the four-team round-robin tournament while Delaware went 0-3. Hayles added 10 points for the Tigers while Quinnel Brown had eight points, five rebounds and four assists. Watson and Hayles both had six turnovers apiece for Auburn. The Tigers outrebounded Toledo 41-28, but only forced 14 Rocket turnovers for 17 points. Auburn's 25 miscues led to 29 Toledo points. The Rockets also had a 34-20 advantage with points in the paint. Douglas garnered San Juan Shootout MVP honors, averaging 18 points and 4.7 rebounds in the three games while Watson was named to the all-tournament team, averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. Auburn returns to action as it plays host to Belmont on Dec. 30 at 8 p.m.
The Tigers will resume action Thursday in the annual Nokia Sugar Bowl basketball classic in the New Orleans Arena. This is the sixth year of the present format with the SEC facing teams from another conference, this year the ACC. LSU is 4-1 in its five years and will meet Florida State in the second game of the doubleheader in its sixth year as the unofficial host team for the event. Overall the SEC is 9-1 in the event. Brandon Bass continues to be a big player for the Tigers with two straight double doubles, including 22 points and a career high 15 rebounds against Houston. Bass entered Christmas tied for the league lead in scoring and the league leader in field goal percentage. Senior Antonio Hudson is just 14 points shy of becoming the 34th player in LSU history to go over 1,000 career points. Darrel Mitchell has made at least one three-pointer in each of the last 22 games. LSU needs 13 wins to have 1,300 on-court victories. After the Sugar Bowl Classic, LSU travels to Salt Lake City to face Utah on Jan. 3 before opening SEC play at Alabama on Jan. 8. LSU's next home game is Jan. 12 against South Carolina.
Winners of five straight games, the 11-2 Bulldogs close out their non-conference, regular-season schedule by taking on Virginia Tech on Thursday in the opening game of this year's Nokia Sugar Bowl Basketball Classic to be played at the New Orleans Arena. Mississippi State will be making its ninth tournament appearance overall, and third straight under Rick Stansbury's guidance, in the Sugar Bowl Basketball Classic. The Bulldogs and Hokies last met on the hardwood more than two decades ago, splitting a home-and-home series during the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. The Bulldogs have shot 54 percent from the field as a team and have also been credited with 21 assists during each of their last three games. MSU's commanding 59-21 rebounding advantage in its 95-53 win over Jacksonville State on Dec. 22 stands as the team's largest single-game rebound margin during the Stansbury era. Shane Power needs just three more points to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career. Sophomore point guard Gary Ervin has totaled 39 assists and just 10 turnovers over his last four outings. With 14 and 10 assists in his last two contests, he has become the first State player since Chuck Evans (1992-93) with double-digit assists in back-to-back games.
Tommie Eddie scored 20 points and Mississippi never trailed in a 92-64 victory over Tennessee-Martin on Tuesday night. Kendrick Fox and Brandon Patterson each scored 13 points for the Rebels (7-4), who won their fifth straight in an 11-day span. Bam Doyne added 10 points for Ole Miss. Eddie scored 10 points during the Rebels' decisive 21-1 run which bridged the halftime. The Rebels scored the final 5 points of the first half, began the second half with a 16-1 spurt and led 58-32 with 15:40 remaining on Eddie's jumper. Cleve Woodfork scored 13 points to lead Tennessee-Martin (3-6), which has lost two straight and four of five. Justin Flatt and Jared Newson each had 12 points for the Skyhawks, and Jason Thompson added 10. The game was coach Rod Barnes' 200th at Ole Miss, where his career record is 120-80. Wrapping up a stretch of five games in 11 days, the Rebels matchup with UT-Martin Tuesday was at Tupelo's BancorpSouth Center. It was Ole Miss' first contest in the 11-year-old arena and the team's second ever game in Tupelo, having dropped a 1964 meeting with Texas 94-67. Tupelo is about 50 miles east of the school's main campus in Oxford.
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