ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 12: Andrew Steele #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats vie for position during the semifinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

2011 SEC Basketball Championship: Kentucky Shuts Down Florida, 65-54, To Win SEC Title

Kentucky and Florida face-off in the SEC Tournament championship on Sunday at 1 p.m. on ABC.

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2011 SEC Basketball Championship: Kentucky Stifles Florida For 65-54 Victory In Title Game

Once again, it's Kentucky, old blood of the SEC, trumping nouveau riche Florida. But it's the Wildcats' youth movement that helped Kentucky secure its 65-54 victory over the veteran Gators in the 2011 SEC Tournament final on this Selection Sunday.

Freshmen Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones led the Wildcats, contributing 17 and 16 points, respectively, and helping key a defensive effort that limited the explosive Gators to a miserable afternoon. And injured freshman Doron Lamb sparked Kentucky in the first half with six points off the bench.

But it was Kentucky's defense that won the day, suffocating Florida with size and athleticism. The Wildcats had six steals and forced 14 Florida turnovers, and limited the Gators to a miserable 38.6% shooting from the field.

Florida's perimeter players, so often the focal point of the Gators' offense, had one of their worst days of the season. The trio of Chandler Parsons, Kenny Boynton, and Erving Walker combined for 27 points on 10 of 38 shooting, just one day after Boynton and Walker combined for more than 30 points in the second half against Vanderbilt.

With the win, Kentucky is likely to be a low No. 3 seed or high No. 4 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Florida should get no less than a No. 4 seed, but could still earn a No. 3 seed.


2011 SEC Tournament Championship: Kentucky Leads Florida At Halftime, 34-29

Through one half of the Florida-Kentucky showdown in the SEC Tournament Championship, the victory — and the Selection Sunday spoils — could go to either of the two evenly matched teams. Kentucky leads, 34-29, but Florida's certainly not out of this game.

The Wildcats have been the better team so far, but not by much. Brandon Knight leads the 'Cats with two threes and eight points, and DeAndre Liggins has seven points, including four free throws. Doron Lamb, playing despite an ankle injury suffered in a Saturday semifinal, has six points coming off the bench.

Florida's been sparked by Scottie Wilbekin to this point. Wilbekin, a 17-year-old who graduated from high school a year early to join the Gators, leads Florida with eight points, all accumulated during one burst that saw Wilbekin drill a three, get a steal, drill another three, and drive to the bucket for a rare lay-up. He's making up for the Gators' nearly nonexistent post game: Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus, and Patric Young have combined for just four points.

Gators stars Chandler Parsons, Kenny Boynton, and Erving Walker have also struggled: they're a combined six of 22 from the field. Florida, as a team, is shooting just 37.5%, and went almost six minutes without a field goal late in the half.

And yet they only trail by five, and have been authoring second half comebacks for much of the SEC schedule. So Kentucky might not want to start dreaming of cutting down the nets in Atlanta just year.


2011 SEC Basketball Championship: Kentucky, Florida Survive SEC Tournament Bracket, Reach Finals

It's all SEC East in the SEC Tournament championship on Sunday. Florida, who finished in first-place in the SEC East, and Kentucky, the second-place finisher, hit the court on Sunday with an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament on the line. The two teams outlasted the rest of the field over the last three days, surviving to advance to the Sunday's finals.

Florida finds itself in the championship by way of wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt. In the quarterfinals, the Gators took care of business against Bruce Pearl's Volunteers, cruising to an 85-74 win. It was all Florida in the semifinals as well, with the Gators using a second half run to drop Vanderbilt, 77-66.

Kentucky took care of business with relatively easy wins, as well. The Wildcats put away Mississippi in the quarterfinals, 75-66. Against Alabama, the top-seeded team from the SEC West, Kentucky rolled, breezing to a 72-59 win.

Sunday's game serves as a rubber match for the Wildcats and Gators after the two teams split the season. Florida won the first game, defeating Kentucky in Gainesville, 70-68. Kentucky returned the favor a month later, putting Florida away at Rupp Arena, 76-68. They go at it for the third, and final, time on Sunday with bragging rights and the SEC Tournament title on the line. 

It all gets underway at 1 p.m. on ABC. Be sure to stop by Alligator Army to connect with Florida fans and A Sea of Blue to connect with Kentucky fans ahead of, and throughout, Sunday's game.

First Round: Thursday, March 10

East No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs def. West No. 5 Auburn Tigers, 69-51

West No. 3 Mississippi Rebels def. East No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks, 66-55

East No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers def. West No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks, 74-68

East No. 3 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. West No. 6 LSU Tigers, 10:00 p.m., SEC Network

Quarterfinals: Friday, March 11

West No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide def. East No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs, 65-59

East No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats def. West No. 3 Mississippi Rebels, 75-66

East No. 1 Florida Gators def. East No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers, 85-74

East No. 3 Vanderbilt Commodores def. West No. 2 Mississippi State Bulldogs, 87-81

Semifinals: Saturday, March 12

East No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats def. West No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, 72-58

East No. 1 Florida Gators def. East No. 3 Vanderbilt Commodores, 77-66

Championship game: Sunday, March 13

East No. 1 Florida Gators vs. East No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats, 1:00 p.m., ABC

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