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UNDATED (AP) — The top three teams in the Southeastern Conference should be in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament. The rest of the conference may still have some work to do. No. 11 Auburn, No. 12 Kentucky and No. 25 LSU should not have to worry when Selection Sunday rolls around. Teams such as Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina could be sweating it out without a strong finish to the regular season.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Rhyne Howard scored 26 points and led a third-quarter surge that sent No. 18 Kentucky over No. 6 Mississippi State 73-62. The Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 22-9 in the third quarter. Howard was 10 of 22 from the field, including 3 of 9 from beyond the arc, and grabbed 10 rebounds in her second outing since missing the previous three games with a left finger injury on her non-shooting hand. Chasity Patterson made 6 off 11 off the bench and Jaida Roper had 14 points as the Wildcats avoided their first losing streak this season. Jessika Carter had 18 points for Mississippi State, which had won six in a row.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Chennedy Carter scored a season-high 37 points in her first start since returning from an ankle injury as No. 16 Texas A&M edged slumping No. 25 Tennessee 73-71 on Sunday. Carter had missed seven games after hurting her left ankle. The Southeastern Conference preseason player of the year returned to action Thursday and scored 18 points in 22 minutes off the bench in a 74-53 victory over Vanderbilt. Tennessee lost its fourth straight despite getting 19 points from Rae Burrell and 18 from Rennia Davis. Texas A&M went 28 of 33 and Tennessee was 6 of 16 on free-throw attempts.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Guards Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson each scored 28 points and Missouri beat No. 11 Auburn 85-73. Kobe Brown added 10 points and nine rebounds for Missouri. Austin Wiley led Auburn with 22 points and 10 rebounds, J’Von McCormick added 21 points and Samir Doughty scored 16. Auburn made just 1 of 17 3-point attempts.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Kira Lewis Jr. scored 27 points, Jaden Shackelford had 26 and Alabama held off a big comeback attempt by No. 25 LSU for an 88-82 victory. The Crimson Tide knocked the Tigers from a share of the conference lead after blowing virtually all of an 18-point lead. Alabama also took No. 11 Auburn into overtime Wednesday night before losing. LSU came into the day in a three-way tie for atop the SEC with Auburn and No. 12 Kentucky but has lost three of its last four games since an 8-0 league start.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Nick Richards had 16 points, including two go-ahead free throws with 1:11 remaining, and Immanuel Quickley and Keion Brooks each made two more in the closing seconds to help No. 12 Kentucky escape Mississippi 67-62. The Wildcats shot just 39% overall but made 48% in the second half to erase a seven-point deficit and create a back-and-forth game for the final eight minutes. Richards followed two free throws with 2:11 left with two more a minute later to put Kentucky up 63-62. Breein Tyree had 19 points for the Rebels, who had won three in a row.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Noah Locke scored 19 points thanks mostly to a season-high six 3-pointers, Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 15 and Florida hammered Vanderbilt 84-66 as the Gators honored former coach Billy Donovan. Florida celebrated naming the O'Connell Center floor “Billy Donovan Court" at halftime. The Oklahoma City Thunder coach was on hand for the party. He was treated to a blowout, fairly fitting considering Donovan's dominance at home during his 19 years in Gainesville. Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse watched more than half the game from the locker room after getting ejected. Saben Lee led the Commodores with 21 points.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s Maik Kotsar swished four free throws in the final 21 seconds to deliver an improbable 63-61 win over Tennessee. Trailing 60-59 with 1:15 left, the Gamecocks had committed 24 fouls and 13 misses from the line. Yet, after Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi turned the ball over, and Jordan Bowden fouled Kotsar to prevent a fast break, the senior forward calmly swished two free throws for a one-point lead. He went to the line once more a short time later for the final two points. John Fulkerson scored a career-high 25 for the Vols.