|No. 8 Florida sustained another tough road loss away from Gainesville. (US Presswire)|
SEC scoreboard for Dec. 22
Georgia 64, Southern California 56: Sophomore G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 25 points on 10-of-14 (71.4 percent) shooting to go along with five rebounds as the host Bulldogs (4-7) defeated Southern California (4-8). The Bulldogs trailed 28-27 at the half, but Caldwell-Pope's hot shooting quickly helped the Bulldogs build a lead in the second half. A week after horrible free-throw shooting cost the Bulldogs in a loss to Iona, they were much better Saturday, hitting just under 70 percent of their attempts from the line.
Mercer 66, Alabama 59: Alabama (7-4) has now dropped four of its last five games after falling to Mercer. The Crimson Tide, despite big performances from guards Trevor Releford (19 points, 5 rebounds) and Rodney Cooper (17 points, 7 rebounds), couldn't close out the win over the visiting Bears (7-6). The game was tied at 54 at the final media timeout, but a huge 3-pointer by Mercer F Jakob Gollon put the Bears up by four with 37 seconds left and ultimately helped seal with win.
Marquette 84, LSU 80: The Tigers (7-2) kept chipping away at the Golden Eagles' lead, but couldn't make it all the way back from an early 17-3 deficit. The Tigers had five players -- G Charles Carmouche (15 points), G Andre Stringer (20 points), F Johnny O'Bryant III (14 points), G Anthony Hickey and F Shavon Coleman (11 points) -- finish in double-digit scoring. Both teams were nearly perfect from the free-throw line. Marquette (8-3) hit 24 of 25 (96 percent) and LSU hit 12 of 13 (92.3 percent).
Mississippi State 79, Central Arkansas 72: The Bulldogs (4-6) hit 48.1 percent of their field goal attempts to hold off Central Arkansas (4-5). Only seven players saw the floor for Mississippi State, but six of them scored at least nine points. F Gavin Ware led the way with 22 points and 13 rebounds. The Bulldogs also dominated the glass 41-25.
Southern 53, Texas A&M 51: A potential game-winning 3-point shot from Texas A&M G J'Mychal Reese was off the mark and the Aggies (8-3) fell victim to an upset at the hands of Southern (5-6). The Aggies had the better shooting percentage and got 14 points from G Elston Turner, but they couldn't get a few crucial stops at the end. Southern also hit all eight of its free-throw attempts, a stat that is magnified in such a close contest.
Kentucky 82, Marshall 54: The Thundering Herd (7-6) stuck with Kentucky early, keeping the score knotted at 20 until the 9:21 mark of the first half. But the Wildcats built a 33-24 lead at halftime and then exploded in the second half to put the game well out of reach. The Wildcats (8-3) only hit 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) of their 3-point attempts, but made up for it with a flurry of easy buckets. Guards Archie Goodwin (18 points) and Ryan Harrow (23 points) led the way in scoring for the Wildcats, while C Nerlens Noel added 11 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
Indiana State 87, Mississippi 85 (OT): G Marshall Henderson jacked up 16 attempts from 3-point range and made seven, but his 27 points weren't enough to lift the Rebels (8-2) over the Sycamores (6-3) in a game played in Hawaii as part of the Diamond Head Classic. All five of Indiana State's starters scored in double digits and F Manny Arop had 27 points. The Sycamores led most of the way, including a 44-33 at the break. They led by five points with 1:52 remaining, but a late rally by Ole Miss extended the game.
South Carolina 63, Manhattan 57: The Gamecocks (8-3) got 17 points from G Brenton Williams and won their second in a row in a hard-fought game played in New York City. The Gamecocks hit 20 of 49 (40.8 percent) of their field-goal attempts and won the rebounding battle 31-21 to help overcome 19 turnovers to get the win over the Jaspers (3-7). F Lakeem Jackson had a solid game for South Carolina with nine points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
No. 12 Missouri 82, No. 10 Illinois 73: Illinois (12-1) kept it close until the final minute, but it was Missouri that claimed its fourth straight win in a rivalry known simply as the "Braggin Rights" game. The Tigers (10-1) got 23 points from F Laurence Bowers and 18 from G Jabari Brown. C Alex Oriakhi contributed a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. PG Phil Pressey had an off night shooting, but had several perfect dishes on his way to 11 assists. The Illini got 23 points from star G Brandon Paul, but overall settled for some bad shots and only hit 33 percent of their field-goal attempts. It was a two-point game with 1:51 remaining, but the Tigers scored seven straight points to secure the win.
(Video courtesy of MizzouNetwork)
Arkansas 95, Alabama A&M 68: The high-scoring Razorbacks (7-4) again had no problem putting up a ton of points in an easy victory over Alabama A&M (3-7). The Bulldogs didn't have much of a chance in this one. The Razorbacks held a 17-point edge at the break and continued building on that in the second half. Arkansas had 12 players score in this blowout and were led by F Marshawn Powell (20 points) and G B.J. Young (13 points).
Winthrop 74, Auburn 67: Winthrop (5-5) used a strong second-half performance to snap Auburn's three-game winning streak. The Tigers (5-6) were cold from 3-point range, connecting on just 3 of 23 (13 percent) attempts in the loss. Auburn G Jordan Price ended his streak of 11 straight 3-pointers made when he was off the mark on his first attempt of the game. The Eagles lost the battle in both turnovers and rebounds, but hot shooting (49 percent from the field) helped them pull out the road win.
Kansas State 68, No. 8 Florida 61: A week after a frustrating road loss at Arizona, Florida (8-2) again was unable to beat a tough opponent away from Gainesville. The Wildcats hit 7 of 17 (41.2 percent) of their 3-point attempts to pull off the upset in a game played in Kansas City. Florida C Patric Young helped keep the Gators in the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the closing moments. He was one of the few Gators helping out on the glass though. The Wildcats (9-2) held a 35-25 edge in rebounding. Their 11 offensive boards helped extend possessions and led to some easy buckets as well. The Gators stayed within one or two possessions for much of the second half before the Wildcats pulled away at the end.
Star of the day: Missouri's Bowers. He came up big in one of the most important games of the season for the Tigers. His 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists were a big part of the reason that Missouri was able to knock off rival Illinois.
Runner up: Georgia's Caldwell-Pope. It wasn't just that he scored 25 points and grabbed five rebounds, but the way he did it. He was incredibly efficient, only missing four FG attempts. He also did it despite being the focal point of Southern California's defensive plan. He was drawing regular double teams, but was still able to carry the Bulldogs to the win.
Inside the box score -- 3 numbers worth a second look
2 -- The number of free throws Marquette and LSU combined to miss in the entire game. That might go down as the best combined free-throw shooting performance of the season.
15 -- That's how many field-goal attempts Missouri's Pressey missed before making his first. He made up for it with 11 assists and some key late buckets.
23 -- The number of points for Kentucky's Harrow. He has either matched or increased his scoring total from the previous game in every contest this season.
Friday's quote of the day:
Kentucky coach John Calipari: 'I'm pleased. Now we're a long ways from home but this team has as much potential as any in country.'— Matt May (@TCPMattMay) December 22, 2012
Dec. 23 games
Ole Miss vs. San Francisco in the second round of the Diamond Head Classic, 3 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
For more up-to-the minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Daniel Lewis and Larry Hartstein, follow @CBSSportsSEC.