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COLLEGE HOOPS CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT ROUNDUP: Georgetown drops Syracuse, Marquette mashes Villanova in Big East; UF beats Auburn in SEC

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Auburn coach Jeff Lebo called the Bridgestone Arena a tough place to shoot 3-pointers. The Florida Gators, who helped the Tigers struggle, had no such problems finding the basket from long range or close up.

Alex Tyus scored 24 points -- many on rim-rattling dunks -- and Florida snapped a three-game skid by beating Auburn 78-69 Thursday night in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

"I thought we did about as good a job as we could've done guarding the 3, and I think they exerted a lot of pressure on Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker and that freed up Alex and Chandler (Parsons) to have good games. I think both stepped up and played very well," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Parsons scored 21 points for Florida, including hitting 3 of 4 3-pointers, and Vernon Macklin had 10 points.

That was in stark contrast to Auburn, which hit only 4 of 25 3-pointers. Tay Waller, who came in as the SEC's second-best 3-point shooter at 42 percent and second in the nation in made 3-pointers per game, went scoreless and missed all five of his 3-point attempts.

"It's abnormal," Lebo said. "You know what Tay's been doing and how he's been shooting the basketball. I worried coming in. Shooting the ball in these type of venues is not easy. Looking at the 3-point percentages of the games before us, they were poor."

Waller finished 0-for-6 from the floor after coming in averaging 15.9 points per game.

"I can't sit here and say his 0-for-6 was entirely because of us," Donovan said. "I would say we maybe limited his number of attempts, and I give him a lot of credit as a senior not forcing the action."

Donovan didn't want to discuss how many wins his Gators need to ensure their first NCAA tournament berth since they won their second straight national title in 2007. Now Florida (21-11), already 7-0 against the SEC West, has a chance to add another win Friday night in the quarterfinals against Mississippi State, the West's No. 1 seed. Florida beat the Bulldogs 69-62 on Feb. 6.

"I'm really excited to get the win," Tyus said. "We're just looking really forward to Mississippi State."

Auburn (15-17) beat Florida in the quarterfinals last year. But the Tigers now have lost 12 of 13 games to Florida in what could be Lebo's final game with Auburn after six seasons. Asked when he will meet with his athletic director about his future, Lebo was noncommittal. He will lose five seniors from this team.

"We'll have our discussions. That'll be private. It'll happen at some point here soon I'm sure," Lebo said.

Frankie Sullivan scored a career-high 27 points for Auburn. DeWayne Reed added 18 and Lucas Hargrove 11.

Florida led by as much as 14, though the Tigers whittled that down to five in the final 3:13. Reed's final bucket with 36 seconds left made it 72-67. Florida sealed the win as Walker hit four free throws, and Parsons dunked in the final 32.2.

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Alabama 68, South Carolina 63:

Mikhail Torrance's 9-foot jumper broke a tie at 62-62 with 57 seconds left, and Alabama rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half to beat South Carolina.

Alabama (17-14) won a third straight game against an SEC opponent for the first time this season and beat the Gamecocks (15-16) for the second time in eight days after ruining South Carolina's Senior Night last week.

The Tide will play No. 2 Kentucky in today's quarterfinals.

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No. 15 Tennessee 59, LSU 49:

Wayne Chism had 17 points and 10 rebounds as the No. 15 Vols came back from a miserable first half to advance to face Ole Miss today.

With the teams tied at 30-30, Cameron Tatum stretched across the lane to hit a layup with 14:28 left and launch a 16-4 run for Tennessee (24-7).

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BIG EAST CONFERENCE

NEW YORK -- Chris Wright scored 27 points and No. 22 Georgetown sailed past No. 3 Syracuse with an impressive second-half surge, beating the top-seeded Orange 91-84 in the quartefinals of the Big East tournament Thursday.

Though still a strong candidate for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse sustained a potentially costly loss when starting center Arinze Onuaku injured his right leg with 5:07 remaining.

Austin Freeman added 18 points and Jason Clark 17 for the No. 8 seed Hoyas (22-9), who will play Marquette in the first semifinal today.

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Marquette 80, No. 10 Villanova 76:

Lazar Hayward gave Marquette the lead for good with a 3-pointer with 1:51 to play, then added the clinching free throws with 3.2 seconds left, and the Golden Eagles went on to another close win in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.

Marquette (22-10), the fifth seed, advances to face eighth-seeded Georgetown in the semifinals tonight. The loss for fourth-seeded Villanova (24-7), coupled with top-seeded Syracuse's 91-84 loss to the Hoyas earlier, dropped the teams that had earned double byes to 0-2, and both came against teams they had beaten twice during the regular season.

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Notre Dame 50, No. 16 Pittsburgh 45:

Luke Harangody came off the bench and hit three key free throws in the final 2 minutes to help Notre Dame into the Big East tournament semifinals against either West Virginia or Cincinnati tonight.

Brad Wanamaker scored 16 for Pittsburgh (24-8), knocked out in its Big East tournament opener as the No. 2 seed for the second straight year. Before that, the Panthers reached three finals in a row and seven in a span of eight seasons.

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Big 12 Conference

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Cole Aldrich had 12 points and 18 rebounds, and No. 1 Kansas became the third team to reach 2,000 wins by pulling out an 80-68 victory over scrappy Texas Tech on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.

Kansas (30-2) slogged through a sloppy first half and had to withstand a Texas Tech rally in the second before pulling away to join Kentucky and North Carolina in the 2,000-win club.

Kansas now faces Texas A&M today.

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No. 9 Kansas St. 83, Oklahoma St. 64: Jamar Samuels scored 21 of his career-high 27 points in the first half, and the No. 9 Wildcats turned a rematch with the Cowboys into a rout.

Kansas State (25-6) had been waiting to play Oklahoma State since a home loss in January, and left no doubt while tying a school single-season record for wins.

Denis Clemente had 12 points and 10 assists, Jacob Pullen added 19 points and Samuels had 10 rebounds to send Kansas State into today's semifinals against the Baylor-Texas night-game winner.

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No. 23 Texas A&M 70, Nebraska 64: Donald Sloan scored 23 points and Bryan Davis had a key three-point play at the 1:01 mark, helping the No. 23 Aggies advance in the Big 12 tournament.

The Huskers (15-18) will sit out the NCAA Tournament for the 12th straight season.

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Atlantic Coast Conference

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Sammy Zeglinski scored 16 of his season-high 21 points in the first half to help Virginia beat Boston College 68-62 on Thursday in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

The Cavaliers and first-year coach Tony Bennett are headed to today's quarterfinals to face fourth-ranked Duke, the tournament's top seed.

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Miami 83, Wake Forest 62:

Redshirt freshman Reggie Johnson scored a season-high 22 points against his hometown school and 12th-seeded Miami routed fifth-seeded Wake Forest.

They led by 25, shot nearly 52 percent against one of the league's toughest defenses and made a huge early run stand in advancing to today's quarterfinal matchup against fourth-seeded Virginia Tech.

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Big Ten Conference

INDIANAPOLIS -- Manny Harris had 22 points and nine rebounds to help Michigan defeat Iowa 59-52 on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

DeShawn Sims added 14 points for the Wolverines (15-16), who advanced to play No. 5 Ohio State today in the quarterfinals.

Michigan had lost four of its previous five games but won all three games against the Hawkeyes this season.

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Northwestern 73, Indiana 58:

Northwestern's Michael Thompson scored 11 of his 16 points during a late run Thursday, leading the Wildcats.

Seventh-seeded Northwestern (20-12) clinched its first 20-win season in school history and has a date with No. 6 Purdue in today's quarterfinals.

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Pac-10 Conference

LOS ANGELES -- Michael Roll scored 19 points, Reeves Nelson added 18 and UCLA held off Arizona, 75-69, on Thursday in a Pac-10 Conference tournament quarterfinal.

Instead of playing for another title, though, the fourth-seeded Wildcats and No. 5 Bruins were relegated to an afternoon quarterfinal game in a half-empty Staples Center that had more Arizona fans than those rooting for the local Bruins.

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California 90, Oregon 74:

Jerome Randle scored 22 points without missing a shot in the first half, and top-seeded California easily advanced to the Pac-10 tournament semifinal.

Jamal Boykin scored all 15 of his points in the second half to finish the eighth-seeded Ducks, who were taken to overtime by Washington State in their first-round game late Wednesday night. Cal will face UCLA today.