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COLLEGE HOOPS ROUNDUP: UK moves to SEC final with win over Florida, will face Vandy

NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats held off Florida 74-71 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Terrence Jones added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (32-1), who've won 24 straight games.

Doron Lamb scored 16 points and Marquis Teague added 15, with each hitting a pair of key free throws in the last 15 seconds to secure the win against a Florida team which shot 48 percent, including 11 of 22 from 3-point range.

Erik Murphy had 24 points, on 9 of 12 shooting, and nearly lifted Florida (23-10) to the upset with nine points in the final minutes. Bradley Beal added 20 points.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 10 points for Kentucky, which has survived two straight tight games. The Wildcats have never led either game by more than nine points to advance to Sunday's tournament final against the winner of Mississippi and Vanderbilt.

Kentucky shot 45 percent (27 of 60) and outrebounded Florida 39-25. The Wildcats grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.

There was also a significant disparity in free throws, with Kentucky hitting 15 of 20 and Florida going 2 for 2.

Florida led 56-51 on Patric Young's jump hook with 10:43 to go, but the Gators' offense, so consistent to that point, suddenly lost its rhythm.

Florida went without a field goal for more than six minutes without scoring while the Wildcats surged in front 65-56 with a 14-0 run.

Jones hit a 3 and added a follow-up one-handed jam of Davis' missed jumper during the spurt. As his 3 swirled through the hoop, Jones turned to the boisterous and heavily pro-Kentucky crowd, made the hand signal for a 3 and held it to his face, looking through the circle formed by his thumb and index finger.

Just when it appeared the Gators were teetering on collapse, Murphy scored seven straight points to pull Florida to 65-63.

Davis' putback after Teague's missed free throw gave Kentucky a 68-63 lead, but Beal responded with a quick 3 from several feet behind the arc to make it 68-66 in a back-and-forth finish.

After Jones hit a pair of free throws to push Kentucky's lead back to four, Murphy answered with a putback with 17 seconds left, keeping the pressure on the Wildcats.

Florida shot close to 60 percent through the first 15 minutes and did not trail once until the final seconds of the first half.

Vanderbilt 65, Ole Miss 53

NEW ORLEANS -- John Jenkins scored 23 points, Brad Tinsley added 12 and Vanderbilt beat Mississippi 65-53 in the Southeastern Conference tournament semifinals on Saturday.

It's the first trip to the SEC championship game for Vanderbilt (23-10) since 1951, when the Commodores beat Kentucky 61-57. They've finally got another chance at a title thanks to timely outside shooting from Jenkins and Tinsley, who combined to hit five 3-pointers in the second half.

After a cold first half, Vanderbilt hit 50 percent (6 of 12) from 3-point range in the second half.

Vanderbilt outrebounded Ole Miss 36-29. Lance Goulbourne added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Commodores, who will play top-ranked Kentucky on Sunday.

Ole Miss (20-13) briefly took a 32-31 lead early in the second half, but Vanderbilt eventually buried the Rebels with well-timed 3-pointers and relentless defense.

The Rebels were led by Jarvis Summers, who scored 15 points. LaDarius White added 13.

Ole Miss had the pace it wanted from the opening tip -- a deliberate, half-court game that kept it close.

The Rebels have been a difficult matchup for teams all season despite having serious deficiencies on the offensive end, making up for it with defense, rebounding and sheer hustle. It allowed them to get past Auburn and Tennessee in the first two rounds of the tournament, but even coach Andy Kennedy has admitted the energy expended on a nightly basis makes it a very difficult way to win consistently.

Neither team shot well in the first half, but Jenkins hit a pair of late baskets, including a 3-pointer, to push Vanderbilt ahead 25-23.

Ole Miss took a brief 32-31 lead on Holloway's free throw with 16:12 remaining, but it appeared the Rebels simply ran out of their usual boundless energy. They failed to close on shooters like Jenkins, who hit a pair of crucial shots from beyond that arc, including one that put Vanderbilt in front 49-40 with less than nine minutes remaining.

Ole Miss made one last run, pulling within 49-44 with 7:24 remaining, but then it was Tinsley's turn to hit a few big 3-pointers, and Vanderbilt went on an 8-0 run to put the game away.

No. 7 Ohio St 77, No. 10 Michigan 55

INDIANAPOLIS -- Michigan is heading to NCAA tournament. The Wolverines will try to leave their most lopsided loss of the season behind.

Jared Sullinger scored 24 points to help No. 7 Ohio State defeat No. 10 Michigan 77-55 on Saturday in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.

The Wolverines (24-9) shot 31 percent from the field, made 4 of 25 3-pointers and committed 18 turnovers in one of their worst offensive performances of the season. Michigan guard Stu Douglass said he's not concerned with how the Wolverines will respond. The Wolverines have won the next game after every loss this season.

"We bounce back after every loss," said Douglass, who scored five points. "We realize what's at stake. It's good for us to experience this. We'll come back, learn a lot from this and watch film."

Tim Hardaway, Jr., led No. 2 seed Michigan with 13 points, but he made just 3 of 10 shots. Trey Burke, Michigan's other star player, scored five points on 1-for-11 shooting and had eight turnovers.

Deshaun Thomas scored 22 points and William Buford added 10 for the third-seeded Buckeyes (27-6).

No. 8 Michigan St. 65, No. 14 Wisconsin 52

INDIANAPOLIS -- Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan kept searching for an explanation as to what went wrong Saturday.

Eventually, he settled on this: The Badgers just ran out of steam.

No. 8 Michigan State used runs of 13-0, 11-0 and 13-2 to rally from an early deficit and defeat No. 14 Wisconsin 65-52 in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.

"These guys, that was a hard fought game yesterday, that's a hard fought game today," Ryan said. "That 13-0 run in the second half showed me something about our guys. I just, I don't know what we had left. Michigan State obviously had more, but there were some runs in that game that were, more so than usual."

The Badgers (24-9) were led by Jordan Taylor with 19 points and Ryan Evans with 18 but shot just 34.7 percent from the field and committed an uncharacteristic 12 turnovers, their highest total in five games.

Whether the loss will affect Wisconsin's seeding for next week's NCAA tournament will be determined a few blocks away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

But Wisconsin, which had won tourney titles in 2004 and 2008, was hoping that it could rekindle some election year magic. It didn't work this time.

"You got to shoot better than that, and we had some guys that didn't score," Ryan said. "We need it from everybody, we need bunches scoring and when we get that, we've proven 24 times that we can get some things done."

On Saturday, Michigan State proved it could do finish the job against a good team after blowing two chances to clinch the outright league title last week.

Draymond Green led the Spartans with 14 points and 16 rebounds, and Austin Thornton scored all 12 of his points on 3-pointers.

It's the first time since 2000, when Michigan State (26-7) won its second national championship, that it will play for the league's postseason title.

"It's just another opportunity for us. We had two chances to win the Big Ten outright, we didn't do it," Green said. "You can't really make up for it, but it's an opportunity to feel better about it if we get this conference tournament championship. It's just another way to leave that footprint, leave your legacy."

The Spartans next chance comes Sunday against No. 7 Ohio State, a 77-55 winner over No. 10 Michigan in Saturday's second semifinal game. The Spartans beat the Buckeyes in Columbus, then lost on William Buford's basket with 1 second left last week in East Lansing. All three teams finished with a share of the Big Ten's regular-season crown.

Whether it matters in the NCAA selection committee's ultimate decision-making process is still up for debate. A top seed might be tough to come by.

But sharing titles isn't good enough anymore for seniors such as Green and Thornton.

Green has recorded double-doubles in both of the Spartans double-digit tourney wins, and the Spartans followed two different blueprints to essentially get the same outcome. They took control early against Iowa and pulled away for a 92-75 victory.

On Saturday, it was the Michigan State defense and the determination of their seniors, particularly Green and Thornton, that helped them overcome the loss of starting guard Brandon Dawson (knee) and kept Wisconsin at arm's length.

Green also had five assists and three blocks. He moved into second place on the school's career rebounding list, too, with 1,046, 10 more than Johnny Green.

Initially, things didn't go well for the Spartans, who trailed 20-9 midway through the first half.

After coach Tom Izzo called a timeout, Green and Thornton changed the whole complexion of the game.

The combination of suffocating defense, Green's rebounding and Thornton's 3s quickly got Michigan State back in the game, and when Derrick Nix ended a 13-0 run with a 7-foot hook shot, the Spartans finally had their first lead at 22-20 with 6:04 left in the half.

Michigan State then closed the half on a 13-3 run to make it 35-25 at the half.

"He felt that we were a little bit lethargic there and it showed in our play, and he's a spitfire, he got us going, he did his job," Thornton said. "We responded well and glad to come out with a win."

The surge continued into the second, and when Ryan drew a technical foul, the Spartans suddenly led 46-27 with 16:52 to go.

Wisconsin finally rallied, closing to 46-40 when Taylor converted a missed free throw into a 3-pointer with 12:17 left.

But with Green leading the way, Michigan State went on a 13-2 run that knocked out the Badgers and sent the Spartans to their first Big Ten title game since winning their last national championship.

"You always want to set yourselves apart from everybody else, but when you get to this point of the season, one-and-done is the motivation," Green said. "We're trying to get another championship and hang another banner. We have to ratchet it up more."