The four remaining teams in the SEC battled it out Saturday in the SEC tournament's semifinals for a chance to compete in Sunday's finals from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
A pair of NCAA tournament locks were in action in the form of top-seeded Texas A&M and No. 2 seed Kentucky. Meanwhile, two bubble teams attempted to pull off upsets and crash the March Madness party, as both No. 4 LSU and sixth-seeded Georgia entered the day with their respective seasons essentially hanging in the balance.
Here is a full rundown of the SEC tournament semifinal results along with a look ahead toward Sunday's highly anticipated final.
|Game||Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|10||No. 1 Texas A&M vs. No. 4 LSU||71-38, Texas A&M|
|11||No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Georgia||93-80, Kentucky|
|Game||Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|12||No. 1 Texas A&M vs. No. 2 Kentucky||1 p.m. (Sunday)|
|No. 1 Texas A&M 72|
|No. 8 Florida 66|
|No. 1 Texas A&M 71|
|No. 4 LSU 38|
|No. 4 LSU 84||No. 1 Texas A&M|
|No. 12 Tennessee 75|
|No. 2 Kentucky 85|
|No. 10 Alabama 59||No. 2 Kentucky|
|No. 2 Kentucky 93|
|No. 6 Georgia 80|
|No. 3 South Carolina 64|
|No. 6 Georgia 65|
Texas A&M 71, LSU 38
LSU entered Saturday's semifinal with a chance to potentially solidify a spot in the NCAA tournament and with one of the nation's best players in tow. But top-seeded Texas A&M destroyed the Tigers 71-38 in perhaps their worst performance of the season.
The defeat dropped LSU to 19-14 on the season, and it almost certainly relegated the Tigers to the NIT at best. Texas A&M, meanwhile, improved to 26-7 and has a great opportunity to bolster its NCAA tournament seeding with an SEC tournament title Sunday.
While the Tigers jumped out to an 8-3 win, it was all Aggies from that point forward, as LSU went cold from the field and entered halftime facing a 35-13 deficit.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, LSU shot less than 21 percent and made just one of 11 three-point attempts in the opening half:
LSU led early, but were outscored 32-5 by Texas A&M in final 15:47 of the 1st half. The Tigers went 14:29 w/o a FG. pic.twitter.com/yObJ3f4SkS— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2016
It also went nearly three quarters of the half without making a single field goal:
LSU went 14:29 between made field goals. Texas A&M ended the first half on a 32-5 run.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2016
LSU was so stagnant on the offensive end that Glenn Guilbeau of USA Today joked the basketball team gave its football brethren a run for their money:
I haven't seen this little offense from LSU since football season.— Glenn Guilbeau (@LSUBeatTweet) March 12, 2016
Not surprisingly, the Tigers' woeful scoring output marked one of the program's worst first-half performances in history, per Travis L. Brown of the Eagle:
LSU’s 13 points in 1st half vs. Texas A&M today ties for second fewest in 1st half in school history. Scored 13 against Ole Miss 2/28/96.— Travis L. Brown (@Travis_L_Brown) March 12, 2016
While improvement seemed like a virtual guarantee for LSU in the second half, it somehow managed to perform even worse from the field.
The Aggies didn't exactly light up the scoreboard in their own right, as they shot just 41.9 percent, but the Tigers finished with a mere 13 makes on 63 attempts, so they never had a chance to push Texas A&M.
Despite the abysmal showing, freshman superstar Ben Simmons still finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for his 23rd double-double of the season:
Ben Simmons: 23rd double-double of the season, 5th-most in the nation and most among major conference players. However, LSU trails 65-28.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2016
His mediocre play contributed to LSU's struggles, though, and ESPN's Chad Ford made mention of that:
LSU & Ben Simmons with a dud in final SEC game. 10 pts, 4-11 shooting, 12 boards for Simmons, but passive on both ends of the floor.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) March 12, 2016
Also, Mike Schmitz of Draft Express suggested that he may have hurt his draft stock with a less-than-stellar SEC tournament:
Not sure how any NBA scout can walk away from this tournament saying Ben Simmons is the best prospect in the draft.— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 12, 2016
Simmons may have a chance to improve his outlook in the NIT, but it is Texas A&M that will be moving forward to the NCAA tournament.
It first has a date with the winner of the Kentucky versus Georgia game in Sunday's SEC tournament final, though, and winning that could go a long way toward being a March Madness threat.
The Aggies showed a great deal of depth Saturday and received production throughout the lineup. That was the opposite of LSU's Simmons-reliant approach, and it should serve Texas A&M well as the games get even tougher.
Kentucky 93, Georgia 80
The sixth-seeded Georgia Bulldogs threw everything they had at the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats in Saturday's SEC tournament semifinals, but it wasn't enough as the Wildcats prevailed, 93-80.
Kentucky's stars came to play, as phenomenal freshman Jamal Murray led the way with 26 points and point guard Tyler Ulis added 25 more to go along with five assists.
Another 20-point effort for Murray put him in some elite company over the course of Kentucky basketball history, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Jamal Murray: 12th straight 20-point game. Longest streak by a Kentucky player since Kevin Grevey had 12 straight in the 1974-75 season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2016
Eric Crawford of WDRB pointed out that Murray rose to the occasion for his team, whereas Ben Simmons didn't do the same for the LSU Tigers in the early game:
Compare and contrast, freshman edition: Ben Simmons’ play today vs. Jamal Murray’s __________________________— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) March 12, 2016
He dropped 19 points in the first half and was the primary reason why the Wildcats were even in the game, as Georgia took a 49-44 advantage into halftime.
The Bulldogs shot a solid 49.1 percent from the field for the game, but seemingly everything was going down during the opening 20 minutes:
In the regular season, Georgia shot 11-50 (22%) vs Kentucky for 48 pts in a loss. In the 1st half today: 19-31 (61%) for 49 pts and up by 5.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2016
The trio of sophomore forward Yante Maten, senior guard Kenny Gaines and junior guard J.J. Frazier combined for 55 points in the contest, and Frazier gave Georgia a ton of momentum in the first half by making shots like this one, via ESPN College BBall:
That move. 👀 https://t.co/d0FHJNiC7t— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 12, 2016
Georgia kept the lead out of reach for much of the second half until freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe put the Wildcats on top, 67-66, with just over eight minutes remaining.
Briscoe finished with 12 points, and Kent Spencer of WHAS believed he was the driving force behind Kentucky's comeback:
Isaiah Briscoe has flat out been the MVP for Kentucky in the 2nd half... has been a part of every major play for the Cats.— Kent Spencer (@WHAS11Kent) March 12, 2016
Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal was also impressed with Briscoe's performance:
One of Isaiah Briscoe's highest-impact games in a Kentucky uniform. Puts the Cats up five. Now 11 points, 5 boards. All big buckets.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 12, 2016
The floodgates opened once Kentucky took the lead, and Georgia simply didn't have the defensive resources needed to slow down the dynamic Wildcats attack.
As pointed out by T.J. Beisner of Kentucky Sports Television, the Wildcats likely weathered what was Georgia's best possible effort:
Georgia threw their A+++++ game at UK. Cats kept fighting, confidence never changed. Great sign for that tournament that starts next week.— T.J. Beisner (@Beisner_cn2) March 12, 2016
The Bulldogs showed for significant stretches of the game that they could be a threat in the NCAA tournament, but with a record of 19-13, it seems unlikely that they will get that opportunity.
Kentucky split the SEC regular-season title with the Texas A&M Aggies, however, and they will have a chance to prove that they are the superior team Sunday in the SEC tournament finals.
The Aggies put forth a complete effort against LSU and will be extremely difficult to beat due to their depth, but the Wildcats certainly have the edge in terms of star power.
Kentucky has the makings of a team that can win a national title if everything clicks, and beating Texas A&M would be a clear warning shot to every other team in the nation.
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