SEC women's tourney wrapup

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - All four games Friday came down to the wire with Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina advancing to the semifinals. Go inside for a recap of the action.

GAME ONE: No. 1 seed Kentucky vs. No. 8 seed Florida

Winner: Kentucky, 71-67

Up next: Kentucky (22-8) vs. No. 4 seed LSU (21-9)

Significance: Florida pushed Kentucky to the brink - the Gators led 32-25 at halftime after opening a 20-6 lead - but the Wildcats mounted a comeback behind SEC Player of the Year A'dia Mathies and staved off the upset.

Kentucky received its regular season trophy before the game and kept its composure down the stretch to secure the win.

Florida showed it definitely belongs in the NCAA tourney field. The Gators were within one point with 21 seconds to play against the SEC champs and got a nice look with seven seconds left that didn't fall that would have tied the game.

Key stats:

Kentucky was led by Mathies with 24 points and Keyla Snowden with 17. The Wildcats didn't shoot well at 29.7 percent overall, but they got to the line 33 times - and converted 25 - by attacking the paint and by shooting well from long range at 8-15 (53.3 percent).

That was the difference as Florida was just 3-15 from long range and converted 12-20 from the stripe.

The Wildcats also took full advantage of 22 Gator turnovers with 25 points while Florida got 12 points after 16 miscues by Kentucky.

Jennifer George led the Gators with 18 points and was tough down the stretch. Azania Stewart had 15 points and 12 boards, and Jordan Jones added 13 points.

Key quotes:

Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell: "It's just really good to be sitting here in the press conference winning that game. What a great, hard-fought game.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for the University of Florida and their basketball team. If they're not one of the toughest teams in America, I don't know who is."

Florida Coach Amanda Butler: "I don't think there's any doubt at all."

That was the head coach on the Gators' chances for an at-large bid in the NCAA tourney.

"The way we closed out February, I think even in this game in the face of losing again by a few points, I think we definitely showed we deserve to be in that field," Butler said.

"These kids, there's no question, have got a lot more basketball to play. It would be a travesty if it was any other way."

GAME TWO: No. 2 seed Tennessee vs. No. 7 seed Vanderbilt

Winner: Tennessee, 68-57

Up next: Tennessee (22-8) vs. No. 6 seed South Carolina (23-8)

See separate coverage on this site.

GAME THREE: No. 4 seed LSU vs. No. 5 seed Arkansas

Winner: LSU, 41-40

Up next: LSU (21-9) vs. No. 1 seed Kentucky (22-8)

Significance: This matches up two teams in the semifinals with stingy defenses.

The Tigers and Wildcats want to make the opponent uncomfortable and this will be a battle of wills Saturday.

Both teams should be locks for the NCAA tourney and an appearance in the SEC tourney title game could mean a seeding boost.

Arkansas has already solidified its resume for the NCAA tourney and this outcome did nothing to erode that.

Key stats:

Adrienne Webb led LSU with 15 points and her last shot was her biggest - a three to give LSU a one-point lead with nine seconds left.

Courtney Jones added 10 points for LSU and was 6-6 from the stripe. LaSondra Barrett had eight points and three rebounds - she got the defensive board on a missed C'eira Ricketts shot that led to Webb's trey - and one block when she swatted away Ricketts' last offering to seal the win.

LSU won despite 24 turnovers to just 12 for Arkansas and the fact the Razorbacks had 60 shots on goal compared to just 35 for the Tigers, a record low for the tourney. The previous mark was 40 field goals attempted by Vanderbilt against Georgia in 1992.

Arkansas was 3-23 from long range while LSU was 3-9. Arkansas opened the game 0-16 from the field.

Ricketts led the Razorbacks with 17 points. Ashley Daniels had eight points and 12 boards.

This was the lowest-scoring game in SEC Tournament history. The combined 81 points beat the record of 88 points compiled in 2009 when Mississippi State beat South Carolina, 49-39.

Key quotes:

LSU Coach Nikki Caldwell: "First off, I love this time of year. I love being back in the SEC, what this is all about, one of the toughest conferences in the country.

"Arkansas is a great team, knew it was going to be a battle. I'm proud of my team for showing resilience, staying together and coming out with the win."

Arkansas Coach Tom Collen: "I just think it was a tough loss. We obviously didn't play well. I think LSU had a lot to do with that. I think everybody knows they're one of the better defensive teams in the country."

" … Got to give LSU credit. Got to give the Webb kid credit. She hit two big shots, had the courage to do it, and knocked them down."

GAME FOUR: No. 3 seed Georgia vs. No. 6 seed South Carolina

Winner: South Carolina, 59-55

Up next: South Carolina (23-8) faces Tennessee (22-8)

Significance: South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley continues to move her program in the right direction. The Gamecocks now have two wins in the 2012 SEC tourney and get a rematch with Tennessee.

South Carolina beat the Lady Vols in Knoxville last week so the pro-Tennessee crowd in Nashville shouldn't be an issue for the Gamecocks.

Georgia also is presumably a lock for the NCAA tourney so the Lady Bulldogs can turn their focus to preparation for that event after a short stay in Nashville.

Key stats:

Ashley Bruner led South Carolina with 12 points. Three Gamecocks tallied nine points - Ieasia Walker, Tina Roy and Aleighsa Welch.

The Gamecocks had just five turnovers. Georgia had just 11 miscues.

Georgia was led by Jasmine Hassell with 16 points. Jasmine James and Meredith Mitchell added 10 each.

Neither team shot well from long range. Georgia was 2-11; South Carolina was 3-20.

The difference was at the stripe. South Carolina converted 14-20. Georgia was 9-13.

South Carolina advanced to the first SEC tourney semifinal in program history.

Key quotes:

South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley: "I think it's great for our program. I think again, our seniors, they've seen this program from being 10-18 to now participating in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.

"I think it's something we've been working for all year long. They're definitely leaving a legacy that hopefully will continue for a long time."

Georgia Coach Andy Landers: "The game was kind of the way that we thought it would be. It would be played hard and defensive. Both teams I thought did a reasonably good job of defending the other.

"At the end of the day our inability to keep the deep penetration, whether it be on the dribble or on the pass with a post, ultimately it led to fouls, which I think decided the basketball game."

ODDS AND ENDS

FIRST BASKET: Scored by Kentucky's Maegan Conwright 28 seconds into the game against Florida.

LAST BASKET: A tip-in from Georgia's Jasmine Hassell with 1:58 left in the game against South Carolina. The last points came at the free throw line from Gamecock Ieasia Walker with 13 seconds left.

BEST BEWILDERED LOOK: That of Florida's Jordan Jones after she was called for a travel on a nice catch and drive to basket for layup against Kentucky. She was correct. It was a sweet move but the basket was waved off.

BEST BAND CHANT: That of Arkansas. Whenever an opposing player goes to the line, the band members sing, "You're not going to make it, no you're not going to make it, you're not going to make it after all."

MOST EXPRESSIVE MASCOT: Definitely "Cocky" of South Carolina. The mascot uses its large yellow beak to make noise and express dismay (usually with the officials) or happiness (any made basket by the Gamecocks or miscue by the opponent).

MOST MOBILE MASCOT: Definitely LSU's Tiger. In the closing seconds of LSU's game against Arkansas, the mascot darted to the stands and chanted and cheered with a front row of purple-and-gold fans.

LEAST EXPRESSIVE MASCOTS: The Commodore of Vanderbilt and the Bulldog of Georgia. They stand sentry for most of the game.

BEST EXCHANGE: That between South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley and TV commentator Van Chancellor.

After South Carolina upset Georgia, Dawn Staley scooted over to the sideline and asked Chancellor: "You picked Georgia?! You picked Georgia?! You went against a point guard??!!

Chancellor smiled and shook Staley's hand before she darted back to her team's celebration.

BEST FAN YELL: The SEC has run promotional announcements for Pat Summitt's foundation to raise awareness for Alzheimer's throughout the tourney. During the evening session - when, once again, the dominant color was orange - the ad ran and ended with, "We Back Pat. Do you?"

A Tennessee fan loudly replied: "YES WE DO!"

LOUDEST CHEER NOT INVOLVING A LONG THREE FROM SHEKINNA STRICKLEN: That of the first session fans in attendance when the SEC announced that the arena would not be cleared between sessions as usual because of bad weather in the area and that any fan who wished to remain could move to an unoccupied seat - reserved seats had been sold already for the second session - and remain in the arena for the evening games.

LOUDEST CHEER (FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING): That of the hotel, restaurant and parking lot owners in Nashville after Tennessee won Friday, ensuring that the thousands of orange-clad fans would remain in town.


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