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Three Nail-Biters Across The SEC Last Night

The SEC might not have the best RPI among America’s conferences but the league sure put on an entertaining roundball exhibition last night.  Three games.  Five points difference.  One overtime game.  One last-second tip-in to wrap up a division championship.  Good stuff.

* John Pelphrey got a much, much-needed overtime win over Kentucky last night 77-76 at Bud Walton Arena.  The Hogs snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Wildcats… who continued to have their own problems on the road.  The Wildcats are now 1-6 in the league away from Rupp Arena, but once again, the loss came down to the final seconds.  And again, UK couldn’t connect on a game-winner.

“Our guys are going to be able to take this with them and they’re going to talk about this for a long, long time,” Pelphrey said. 

“If you’re not angry by this, like angry that (road losses are) happening and that we’re going to stop this from happening, it won’t change,” said John Calipari.  “I know I’m angry.”

* Yesterday, the big talk in Louisiana went something like this: “What do the Tigers have to play for at this point?”  Well, snapping a string of 10 consecutive defeats for one.

Trent Johnson’s Tigers knocked off Mississippi State 84-82 in Starkville last night.  The loss drops State to 14-13 overall and 6-7 in the SEC West.  In addition, you can bet that losing to a (now) 3-10 SEC team at home won’t help to cool Rick Stansbury’s seat.

MSU shot 56% from the floor, held a 13-point lead in the first half and got 24 points from Renardo Sidney.  And still lost.

* Alabama toppled Auburn at home last night to secure the West Division title outright.  No surprise there.  But the manner in which they had they won was a surprise.

JaMychal Green sank a tip-in with 0.3 seconds remaining on the clock to give the Tide a 51-49 close-shave victory over its rivals.  At home, playing against a team that is now just 2-11 in the SEC, the 11-2 Tide narrowly avoided a loss that would have been devastating to its NCAA tourney hopes.

“If you look at the numbers for us, it equates to a loss,” Anthony Grant said.  “We got stops from a defensive standpoint.  We found ways to chip away.”  That defense is what makes Alabama so dangerous.  Even on a night when Bama shot 26% from the floor, the Tide still managed a win thanks to the fact that it held its opponent to just 49 points.

The Division Races

As a result of last night’s action, Kentucky’s hopes for landing the East’s second seed in Atlanta dwindled.  The Cats are just 7-6 tied with Tennessee for fourth place.  Georgia (7-5) is a half-game up and Vanderbilt (8-5) has a full-game lead on UK with a week and a half remaining in the season.  Florida is atop the East with a 10-2 mark.

In the West, Alabama has secured the title outright.  No other team in the West even has a winning league mark.  Arkansas’ win and MSU’s loss have moved the two schools back into a tie for second place in the division.  Both squads are just 6-7 in the SEC, a full five games off Bama’s 11-2 pace.


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