ATLANTA — At least Missouri will be very familiar with playing in the Georgia Dome when the Tigers face top-ranked Florida in the first SEC Tournament quarterfinal game today.
Missouri, clinging to seemingly faint NCAA Tournament hopes without an upset of the Gators, had to go two overtimes Thursday to defeat Texas A&M 91-83 and earn the right to play Florida.
“They had a real good regular season, but it’s postseason now,” Missouri’s Jabari Brown said. “It’s a new season and we’re looking forward to playing them.”
The eighth-seeded Tigers (22-10) had a big edge at the foul line against Texas A&M, connecting on 40 of 53 attempts. Brown was 14 of 18 en route to 26 points, while Ernest Ross was 9 of 10 as he scored 24.
Texas A&M, which was 20 of 28 at the line, had four players foul out. Alex Caruso led the ninth-seeded Aggies (17-15) with 28 points and also led his team with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Florida (29-2) became the first SEC team to go 18-0 in the regular season and takes a 23-game winning streak into the 1 p.m. game against Missouri.
“We got a great opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country and we’re excited about it,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said.
The teams played at Florida on Feb. 4, with the Gators winning 68-58.
“I just think it’s a great chance for us to go out there and just showcase what we do and how we play,” Ross said.
Ross had 17 points in the first half and Missouri, which had edged Texas A&M 57-56 at home on March 5, enjoyed a big edge inside, out-rebounding the Aggies 48-28 and having a 30-10 advantage in second-chance points. Johnathan Williams grabbed 15 rebounds, eight of them offensively.
The double-overtime game was the first in the SEC Tournament since LSU edged Georgia 89-88 in the 1987 semifinals at Atlanta’s old Omni.
South Carolina 71,
Arkansas (21-11) had its NCAA hopes come to an end with a 71-69 upset loss to South Carolina (14-19) in the second game Thursday.
Bobby Portis of the Razorbacks missed from close range and Michael Carrera, fouled after grabbing the rebound, made his second of two free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining as the Gamecocks won for the second time in less than 24 hours.
South Carolina defeated Auburn 74-56 on Wednesday night in the first round and Tigers coach Tony Barbee was fired shortly after the loss.
Next up for the No. 13 seed Gamecocks is No. 4-seeded Tennessee (20-11) today in the second quarterfinal game at approximately 3:45 p.m.
Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 17 points and Laimonas Chatkevicius scored 16. The Gamecocks out-rebounded Arkansas 40-24 and got 34 points from their reserves.
South Carolina lost at Tennessee 72-53 on Feb. 8.
LSU 68, Alabama 56
LSU took a 35-24 halftime lead and defeated Alabama 68-56 on Thursday night behind 11-for-21 3-point shooting, advancing to a quarterfinal game against No. 2 seed Kentucky at 7 p.m. tonight.
No. 7 seed LSU (19-12) and Kentucky (22-9) split during the regular season, each winning at home. The Tigers took the first game 87-82 and the Wildcats came back to win 77-76 in overtime.
Shavon Coleman was 5 of 9 from behind the 3-point arc for 15 points and three other LSU players reached double figures. Tim Quarterman, a freshman from Savannah, had 12 points, while Johnny O’Briant scored 11 and Jarell Martin added 10.
Trevor Releford scored 11 points for No. 10 seed Alabama (13-19), but made just 2 of 11 shots from the floor.