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UGA, Tennessee advance to semis

DULUTH - If the Arena at Gwinnett Center is to be filled for the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament championship game Sunday night, the perfect matchup is needed.

Georgia and Tennessee are each just a victory away from doing their part.

The No. 2-ranked Volunteers were presented the trophy for their 14th regular-season SEC title before the opening quarterfinal game Friday and are favorites to add a 13th tournament championship to their many accomplishments.

Georgia, though, may be capable of pulling off the upset, especially with the tournament barely 50 miles from campus.

Coach Andy Landers' team was certainly impressive in advancing to tonight's semifinals, jumping on cold-shooting Kentucky early en route to a 72-40 victory. Tennessee also won easily, beating South Carolina 81-63 on the other side of the bracket.

Georgia, ranked No. 10 in one national poll and 12th in the other, won 10 of its last 11 regular-season games to secure the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament and avoid having to face Tennessee until the title game.

Now the Bulldogs just have to get there. Kentucky forced Georgia (25-5) to overtime before losing at home during the regular season, but there was no suspense this time.

"The team they played in Lexington is not the same team they played here," Georgia All-SEC forward Tasha Humphrey said. "We just came in with the mentality that nobody's going to stop us but ourselves."

Kentucky (18-13) missed its first 14 shots and trailed 12-0. Before long, it was 34-14 and Georgia led by 25 shortly after the start of the second half.

The Wildcats shot a SEC record-worst 20 percent and their 12 field goals were also an all-time SEC tournament low.

The Bulldogs knew what Kentucky wanted to do offensively and wouldn't let the Wildcats do it.

"Our kids locked in on it, disrupted it, stopped it," Landers said. "Just stopped it."

Afternoon attendance was 6,628 - the largest for the tournament's third session since 2004 at Nashville. The crowd was dominated by UT orange, rather than Georgia red and black, but was still appreciated by the Bulldogs.

"Certainly people were a big support to us," Landers said, adding that he expected "we'll have more each day as we move forward."

Cracked the coach, "I think 3:30 (p.m.) is a tough time for people unless they're rich or homeless."

Freshman Angel Robinson came off the bench to lead Georgia with 15 points and tied Humphrey with eight rebounds. Humphrey scored 14, while SEC freshman of the year Ashley Houts had 12 and Janese Hardrick 10.

South Carolina's slim chances of challenging Tennessee (28-2) ended when senior guard Stacy Booker of Collins Hill twisted her left knee on a drive with a little more than five minutes remaining in the first half.

The Gamecocks (17-14) trailed just 27-21 at the time, but the Volunteers soon pulled away. It was 40-28 at halftime and Tennessee led by 29 at one point in the second half.

The loss was South Carolina's 34th straight to UT and was nearly as decisive as the 72-36 thrashing during the regular season in Knoxville.

With SEC player of the year Candace Parker taking just four shots, Sidney Spencer and Alexis Hornbuckle became the Volunteers' top options. Spencer scored 22 and Hornbuckle had 17 points.

"It's good to see other players step up and not stand around and watch (Parker) play," said coach Pat Summitt, whose team advanced to the SEC tournament semifinals for the 14th consecutive year.

Although scoring just 10, Hornbuckle still showed off her all-around game. The 6-foot-4 sophomore had 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

"Like I said all year, 'Pick your poison,'" said Parker of South Carolina's physical attempt to shut her down and ignore her teammates.

Lakesha Tolliver led South Carolina with 13 points, but fouled out with nearly 12 minutes remaining after several confrontations with Parker.

Booker, who had led South Carolina's second-half comeback against Auburn in the first-round, didn't return after her injury and will be evaluated after the team returns to Columbia.

If the Gamecocks don't get a NCAA bid, they will likely return to the Women's NIT.

"Hopefully so," USC coach Susan Walvius said when asked if Booker would be able to play further in the postseason.

LSU 52, Ole Miss 46

Sylvia Fowles posted her 18th straight double-double and No. 11 Louisiana State withstood Mississippi's second-half comeback to top the Rebels 52-46 in the SEC tournament Friday night.

The Lady Tigers will face No. 2 Tennessee, the top seed, in a semifinal Saturday night.

LSU led by 15 points early in the second half after holding Ole Miss to 17 first-half points. The Rebels then rallied with a 13-0 run that made the closing minutes interesting.