The 2021 SEC men's basketball tournament kicked off its quarterfinals Friday with several teams looking to begin a new era in the conference.
Kentucky has dominated this event in the past with 31 titles, including four of the last five, but the Wildcats were eliminated in the second round. Reigning champion Auburn is also unavailable because of a self-imposed postseason ban.
It means no matter which of the eight remaining teams wins it all, it will be the team's first title since at least 2014. For some, it's been decades since the last title.
Here is the latest from Day 3 of the SEC tournament from Nashville, Tennessee.
Quarterfinal Results/Schedule (Friday, March 12)
No. 1 Alabama def. No. 9 Mississippi State 85-48
No. 4 Tennessee def. No. 5 Florida 78-66
No. 2 Arkansas def. No. 7 Missouri 70-64
No. 3 LSU def. No. 6 Ole Miss 76-73
Full bracket and schedule available at NCAA.com
Semifinal Schedule (Saturday, March 13)
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Tennessee; 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 3 LSU; 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Alabama 85, Mississippi State 48
After dominating the SEC in the regular season, Alabama doesn't appear ready to slow down in the postseason.
The Crimson Tide showcased their depth on the way to an 85-48 win over Mississippi State, the fourth-largest margin of victory in this event's history at 37 points, per Mike Rodak of AL.com. Alabama almost outscored their opponent with their bench alone, which tallied 47 points in the win, as 11 total players got onto the scoresheet.
Even with an early start time, Alabama came out on fire with high-energy play:
It helped the No. 1 seed jump out to a 47-19 halftime lead and the result was never in doubt in the second half.
"I think we answered the questions about whether our guys could come out ready to play for an 11 o'clock tip," head coach Nate Oats told reporters after the game.
Mississippi State was held to just 29 percent shooting from the field and finished 1-of-19 from three-point range while failing to get much of anything going on the offensive end.
Other than guard Josh Primo suffering an apparent knee injury, it was almost a perfect outing for the Crimson Tide.
Tennessee 78, Florida 66
Keon Johnson had 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead Tennessee to a 78-66 win over Florida in the second quarterfinal.
Defense was key for the Volunteers, led by Yves Pons and his nine blocks:
Florida finished with just a 34.5 shooting percentage from the floor and turned it over 16 times.
The matchup also got ugly at times, with Florida's Omar Payne getting ejected for a flagrant elbow on John Fulkerson, who was later ruled out of the game following the hit. Later in the second half, Florida head coach Mike White was assessed a technical foul for arguing with the official.
Tennessee was hardly affected as the team pulled away late in the second half for what became a 12-point victory.
Tre Mann scored a career-high 30 for Florida but didn't get enough support to keep his team alive.
Arkansas 70, Missouri 64
It looked as if the SEC tournament was primed for its first major upset when Missouri jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first half against Arkansas.
After all, a Razorbacks loss would reverberate nationally since they are competing for a potential No. 2 seed in the Big Dance. The lead did not last, though, as Arkansas came back and clinched a 70-64 victory behind an impressive second half.
JD Notae provided a much-needed spark off the bench with 27 points, four assists and four rebounds, while Justin Smith tallied 16 points, eight boards, three assists, two steals and one block by doing a little bit of everything.
Xavier Pinson led the way for the Tigers with 14 points, but it was nowhere near enough against Arkansas' defense in the second half.
The Razorbacks forced 21 Missouri turnovers throughout the game with their pressure defense that also swarmed outside shooters and didn't hesitate to jump in front of ball-handlers and swing momentum by taking charges.
So many turnovers is not the recipe to protect the lead as an underdog, and Missouri missed its chance to advance to the semifinals.
LSU 76, Ole Miss 73
LSU made sure Friday was all chalk in the SEC tournament with a 76-73 victory over Ole Miss.
It was a four-man show for the Tigers, who scored a total of four points outside of Trendon Watford, Darius Days, Cameron Thomas and Ja'Vonte Smart. However, their production was enough thanks to impressive showings from all of them.
Watford spearheaded the scoring with 24 points, while Days notched a double-double of 20 points and 12 boards. Thomas chipped in 18 points, and Smart did a little bit of everything with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Despite all of that, Ole Miss was within a single point with just over a minute remaining after Devontae Shuler drained a three-pointer.
It still wasn't enough, as Days hit a monster three-pointer before the Tigers put it away with clutch free throws.
Jarkel Joiner (26 points) and Romello White (18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks) led the way for Ole Miss, which will now have to sweat out Selection Sunday as one of the teams firmly on the bubble.