The Kentucky Wildcats advance to the championship game of the 2012 SEC Tournament, but not before surviving an exciting see-saw battle with the Florida Gators in New Orleans on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats needed a late rally in the first half to take a one-point lead into intermission. In the second half, a big run midway through proved too much to overcome for the Gators despite their best efforts late.
Through the first 10 minutes of the second half, neither the Florida Gators nor the Kentucky Wildcats held more than a five-point lead at any time, exchanging the lead six times in that span. Doron Lamb woke up the Wildcats midway through the half, however, take a steal coast-to-coast for the layup and a 57-56 lead as part of a 14-0 run.
Terrence Jones hit a 3-pointer a minute later, extending UK's lead to 60-56. On the next possession he scored on a put-back dunk made score to put the Wildcats up six.
The two teams then traded baskets, giving Kentucky a 70-68 lead with 14.5 second left on the clock. The Gators promptly put Marquis Teague on the line. He hit both of his free throws to put the Wildcats up four. The Gators turned the ball over on their next possession, and Doron Lamb made both of his attempts from the line to ice the game. Erving Walker made a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer, but it didn't matter. Final score: 76-73, Kentucky.
Murphy scored a career high 24 points on 9-for-12 from the floor. Beal would have had a career high with one more basket, finishing with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Lamb led Kentucky with 16 points and Anthony Davis picked up his third straight double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jones' 15 points and nine rebounds at key moments stole the show, however, especially from a highlight perspective.
The Wildcats will face the winner between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Vanderbilt Commodores at 3:29 p.m. ET on Saturday. Sunday's SEC Tournament Championship Game will tip off at 1:00 p.m. ET on ABC.
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