Alabama wins on 50-footer at buzzer

Associated PressMarch 10, 2013 

Trevor Releford hit a buzzer-beating 50-footer to give host Alabama a 61-58 win over Georgia on Saturday after a wild sequence.

Rodney Cooper grabbed the loose ball from a driving Charles Mann in the final seconds and lofted a pass to Releford, who quickly launched the long shot to prevent overtime, setting off a celebration on the court while officials briefly reviewed the play.

The Crimson Tide (20-11, 12-6 Southeastern Conference) lost a 14-point halftime lead before Releford’s shot salvaged fading hopes of an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. Alabama will be seeded fourth in the SEC Tournament and receive a bye into Friday’s quarterfinals.

Mann scored on a jumper in the final minute for the Bulldogs (15-16, 9-9) but missed the subsequent free throw. Nemanja Djurisic rebounded and delivered it to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who buried the tying three-pointer with 48 seconds left.

The Bulldogs were playing less than 48 hours after Thursday night’s 72-62 upset of Kentucky.

Releford, who had an 18-minute scoring drought after opening with two quick three-pointers, scored 19 points.

Tennessee 64, Missouri 62: Jordan McRae scored 15 points and Jarnell Stokes recorded a double-double as host Tennessee (19-11, 11-7 SEC) rallied from an eight-point, second-half deficit to beat Missouri 64-62 and boost its NCAA Tournament hopes.

McRae, who averaged 25.8 points in the six games leading up to this one, went scoreless in the first 18½ minutes and didn’t make his first basket until 14:33 remained. But he heated up from there and scored seven points in an 11-0 run that put Tennessee ahead for good.

Laurence Bowers scored 20 points for Missouri (22-9, 11-7).

Vanderbilt 74, South Carolina 64: Rod Odom and Dai-Jon Parker each scored 18 points to lead host Vanderbilt. Parker set a career high and Odom scored 16 points in the first half for the Commodores (14-16, 8-10 SEC), who fended off a late charge.

The Gamecocks (14-17, 4-14) cut a 12-point deficit to four twice in the final two minutes but Vanderbilt made five straight free throws.

Arkansas 73, Texas A&M 62: Mardracus Wade scored 14 points as host Arkansas secured its first unbeaten run through the SEC at home since the 1997-98 season. The Razorbacks (19-12, 10-8) closed out the regular season 18-1 at home, with its only loss coming to then-No. 6 Syracuse on Nov. 30.

The loss was the fourth in five games for Texas A&M (17-14, 7-11), which played without leading scorer Elston Turner because of a hand injury.

Mississippi State 74, Auburn 71 (OT): Craig Sword scored 19 points and hit two free throws in overtime to lead host Mississippi State over Auburn. Mississippi State (9-21, 4-14 SEC) trailed by three late in regulation, but Colin Borchert hit a deep three-pointer to force overtime. Borchert finished with 20 points.

Auburn (9-22, 3-15) had a chance to win in regulation, but Chris Denson couldn’t get his runner to fall.

Mississippi 81, LSU 67: Marshall Henderson scored 22 points, and visiting Mississippi (23-8, 12-6 SEC) clinched a double-bye in the conference tournament with a victory over LSU (18-11, 9-9).

Nation men Baylor 81, No. 4 Kansas 58: Pierre Jackson had 28 points and 10 assists as host Baylor finished the regular season with a blowout over Kansas to keep the Jayhawks from the outright Big 12 regular-season title. Cory Jefferson added 25 points for Baylor (18-13, 9-9).

Even after its worst loss in seven years, Kansas (26-5, 14-4) will be the No. 1 seed for this week’s conference tournament in Kansas City. It now has at least a share of the last nine Big 12 regular-season titles. Ben McLemore had 23 points for Kansas.

No. 5 Georgetown 61, No. 17 Syracuse 39: Georgetown emphatically ended its Big East rivalry against Syracuse, wrapping up the regular-season title by holding the visiting Orange to the lowest scoring output of their time in the conference.

Georgetown star Otto Porter Jr. didn’t make a field goal until the second half and finished with 10 points, but the national player of the year candidate contributed in plenty of other ways, with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Markel Starks scored 19 for the Hoyas (24-5, 14-4), who will be the No. 1 seed at the Big East Tournament next week in New York.

Syracuse (23-8, 11-7), which had been hoping for a double-bye in the tournament, was led by Michael Carter-Williams’ 17 points. The Orange shot only 32 percent from the field, including 1-for-11 on three-point tries.

The regular-season finale was the schools’ 89th meeting overall — Syracuse leads 48-41 — but the last time they will face each other as rivals in the Big East. Syracuse is heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Georgetown is part of a group of seven schools splitting away to form a basketball-centric league that will get to keep the Big East name.

No. 6 Miami 62, Clemson 49: Kenny Kadji scored a season-high 23 points to help host Miami win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Kadji also grabbed 12 rebounds and Miami (24-6, 15-3) clinched its first outright men’s basketball league title after being foiled in consecutive losses to Duke and Georgia Tech.

No. 13 Oklahoma St. 76, No. 9 Kansas St. 70: Marcus Smart scored 21 points and drew a charging foul late in the game to help Travis Ford-coached Oklahoma State (23-7, 13-5 Big 12) beat visiting Kansas State 25-6, 14-4). Le’Bryan Nash scored 24 points for Oklahoma State.

Kansas State, which came into the day tied with Kansas for the conference lead, was led by Rodney McGruder with 22 points.

NCAA Tournament bid Florida Gulf Coast 88, Mercer 75: Brett Comer scored 21 points and Florida Gulf Coast (24-10) claimed the first NCAA Tournament berth in school history, knocking off top-seeded Mercer (23-11) in the Atlantic Sun championship game in Macon, Ga.

The second-seeded Eagles became the first team in the 68-team field by snapping Mercer’s 17-game home winning streak, tied for the sixth-longest in the nation. Florida Gulf Coast made the NCAA Tournament in just its sixth season as a Division I program.

State women Western Kentucky 61, Louisiana-Lafayette 57: Junior Bianca McGee went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 1:20, and WKU (21-9, 13-7) erased a 12-point deficit to advance to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Hot Springs, Ark. The Lady Toppers will play Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday.

Louisville women

The banged-up, 13thranked Louisville women begin post-season Sunday not playing their best basketball.

Louisville (23-7, 11-5 Big East) lost three of its final six regular season games to finish fourth in the conference. That earned a double bye into the tournament quarterfinals, where the Cardinals will face fifth-seeded St. Johns at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

While most coaches have a clear understanding of their teams at this point in the season, Coach Jeff Walz doesn’t. “We have what we have, and that’s uncertainty,” he said.

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