Three ranked teams from the SEC hit the hardwood on Wednesday night. Funny thing, only one of them won.
The SEC has turned into the basketball version of Little League. There's one big kid (Florida) who always hits home runs, but the rest of the league is full of kids and teams who look like champs one day and the next, they're distracted by the cheerleaders. Nothing happens like it's supposed to, the unexpected becomes the new normal. So it was last night...
#3 Florida 63 South Carolina 49 - The Gators got back on the winning side of the scoreboard (and how dumb do the voters look for dropping them to #3?) at home last night as Al Horford scored 20 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. To nobody's surprise, the win clinched the SEC East for the Gators who are now 25-3 and 12-1 in the conference with just 3 games remaining.
Mississippi St. 83 #17 Vanderbilt 70 - Jamont Gordon pulled off the rare triple-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to help keep the Bulldogs in a first-place tie with rival Mississippi in the SEC West. Charles Rhodes pumped in 23 for the host Bulldogs.
Both are 7-6 and lead Alabama by 1 game in the standings. After starting off conference play at 3-6, the Bulldogs have won 4 straight with games at Arkansas and Georgia before returning home to face Alabama to close out the regular season.
Tennessee 69 #25 Alabama 66 - It took 81 shots and an overtime session, but Tennessee defended their turf and sent Alabama home losers of their 7th SEC game. Chris Lofton scored 20 for the Vols, who shot only 35% but took 26 more shots than Alabama due to the Crimson Tides' 26 turnovers.
Tennessee recorded an astonishing 18 steals as they improved their post-season chances by getting over the .500 mark. At 7-6, the Vols have just 3 games remaining - at Arkansas, home vs. Florida and at Georgia - in the regular season.
It's still an uphill battle for the Vols, and they'll likely have to do well in the SEC tourney to continue playing in March.
As for the Tide, the loss was their 3rd in their last four games and dropped them to 6-7, behind both Miss. and Miss. St. in the SEC West. They'll have a chance to save their season as they host Auburn and Miss. before heading to Miss. St. to end their regular season.
Top 25 Home Winners
#2 Ohio State 68 Penn St. 60 - Greg Oden, OSU: 17 points, 14 rebounds.
#5 North Carolina 83 NC State 64 - Brandan Wright scored 24 and Tyler Hansbrough added 20 as the Tar Heels claimed sole possession of first place in the ACC at 10-3.
#20 Louisville 72 St. John's 48 - The streaking Cardinals blew past the Red Storm, recording their 4th straight win and continued to hold 3rd place in the Big East at 10-4. With just games at Connecticut and at home vs. Seton Hall remaining, Louisville looks like a lock for an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. They are 20-8 overall.
#21 BYU 76 Colorado St. 67 - The Cougars won their 8th straight and 30th straight at home, securing their hold on first place in the Mountain West at 11-2. They hold a 1 1/2 game advantage over Air Force and UNLV, both at 10-4. Keena Young led all scoring with 24 points as BYU improved to 21-6.
Top 25 Road Winners
#8 Texas A&M 66 Oklahoma St. 46 - Acie Law scored 19 points and the Aggies' defense held the Cowboys' Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry to a combined 13 points in the blowout. Oklahoma State's top scoring duo were 6-24 from the floor.
The win kept Texas A&M in a tie for first place in the Big 12 with Kansas at 11-2, while the Cowboys slumped to 5-7 and likely ended any hopes of making the March Madness field of 65 with their 5th loss in their last 6 games.
#12 Georgetown 75 Cincinnati 65 - The Hoyas won their 10th straight to remain tied for first in the Big East with Pitt at 11-2. Jeff Green scored 21 points as Georgetown shot 54%.
#13 Southern Illinois 58 Indiana St. 50 - The Salukis overcame a poor shooting night with stellar defense en route to their 10th win in a row and the Missouri Valley title. With a two-game lead over Creighton and one game left, the 11-3 Salukis clinched the championship and will receive a solid seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
Top 25 Losers
Miami (FL) 68 #24 Virginia 60 - The Cavaliers gave up first place in the ACC, but still look like a solid choice for post-season play. A road loss to 4-9 Miami isn't going to look good on their resume, but their 9-4 conference record, with wins over Duke, Clemson and Maryland (twice), should be enough to get them into the March Madness field.