Sports

No. 1 Florida, No. 6 Virginia get narrow victories

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Patric Young scored 16 points and No. 1 Florida turned up the defensive pressure in the second half to rally for a 56-49 victory over Tennessee on Saturday in Atlanta to advance to the finals of the Southeastern Conference tournament against Kentucky.

Florida (31-2) extended its school-record winning streak to 25 in a row after trailing by 10 in the first half. The Gators were down 35-28 at the break, but they wore down the Volunteers (21-12) over the final 20 minutes. After shooting 54% in the first half, Tennessee made just five of 20 shots and turned the ball over 11 times, leaving its fate in the hands of the NCAA selection committee.

The Gators, improving to 20-0 against SEC opponents, will face Kentucky or Georgia in the championship game Sunday.

Florida's Scottie Wilbekin added 14 points and Casey Prather had 12. Jordan McRae led Tennessee with 15 points, while Jarnell Stokes had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Aaron Harrison scored 22 points as Kentucky took a methodical 70-58 victory over Georgia in the other SEC semifinal. The Wildcats improved their record of dominance in SEC semifinals to 38-2.

James Young had 14 points and Julius Randle had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Kentucky (24-9), which never trailed but led only 36-32 at halftime.

ACC

Anthony Gill hit two free throws with 8.5 seconds left to help No. 6 Virginia hold off Pittsburgh, 51-48, in the semifinals in Greensboro, N.C.

Gill was shooting 63% from the line for the Cavaliers (27-6) but calmly made both free throws after James Robinson's hanging layup had brought the Panthers to within 49-48. Pitt had a chance to tie the score with four seconds left, but Justin Anderson tipped Robinson's three-pointer to Gill with 0.5 seconds left.

Joe Harris scored 12 points to lead the Cavaliers, who shot 47% against the fifth-seeded Panthers (25-9) to earn their first trip to the final since 1994.

No. 7 Duke beat North Carolina State, 75-67, in the other semifinal. Jabari Parker scored 20 points and Rasheed Sulaimon added 16 points for the third-seeded Blue Devils (26-7) while Rodney Hood had 14 points and keyed the defensive effort against ACC player of the year T.J. Warren.

Duke earned its 31st championship game appearance and first since 2011. The Blue Devils handed Virginia its first conference loss, 69-65, in January.

Warren scored 21 points but was just four-of-13 shooting after halftime while facing a barrage of double teams. The seventh-seeded Wolfpack (21-13), playing their third game in three days, shot just 36% in the second half — after hitting 67% in the opening half — and were denied their first title game berth since 2007.

American Athletic

Montrezl Harrell had 22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, and fifth-ranked Louisville beat No. 21 Connecticut, 71-61, Saturday for the conference's inaugural tournament title in the Cardinals' lone season in the league.

The defending national champions clinched their 40th NCAA tournament berth.

The Cardinals (29-5) have won three straight league tournament titles after taking the last two in the Big East, and they added their 19th overall before moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference in July.

Mountain West

Cameron Bairstow scored 17 points to lead No. 20 New Mexico to a 64-58 victory over No. 8 San Diego State in the title game at Las Vegas, giving the Lobos the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

Trailing by one with a little more than one minute left in the game, Bairstow scored five of the Lobos' last eight points to help the Lobos (27-6) win their third consecutive tournament title.

San Diego State (29-4) was led by Xavier Thames, who scored 15 points.

Big Ten

No. 8 Michigan blew a 12-point second-half lead, then finished the game on a 7-1 run to beat Ohio State, 72-69 in a semifinal. The league's regular-season champs will faceNo. 22 Michigan State in Sunday's championship game.

Nik Stauskas had 18 points and Caris LeVert had 17 to lead the Wolverines (25-7), winners of seven straight. It will be Michigan's first title game appearance since 1998, when it won its only tourney title, which was later vacated.

Ohio State (25-9) was led by LaQuinton Ross with 19 points and Shannon Scott with 18.

Adreian Payne scored 18 points and Branden Dawson added 14 to lead the Spartans (25-8) to consecutive wins for the first time since winning 11 straight in a stretch over December and January.

The Spartans went on a 16-1 run in the first half and took a 37-16 lead when Gary Harris scored with 5:39 left before halftime. Frank Kaminsky had 28 points and Sam Decker added 11 points and seven rebounds for the second-seeded Badgers (26-7).

Big East

Bryce Cotton scored 23 points and Providence won its first Big East tournament title since 1994 with a solid defensive effort against Doug McDermott and No. 14 Creighton in a 65-58 victory at New York.

The fourth-seeded Friars (23-11) used a 2-3 zone to hold the second-seeded Bluejays (26-7) 24 points below their season average and to an eight-for-30 effort on three-point shooting.

McDermott, who came in leading the nation in scoring with 26.5 average, finished 10 for 19 from the field for 27 points. He shined in his first two Big East tournament games, getting 35 in the quarterfinals against DePaul and 32 in the semifinal win over Xavier.

Big 12

DeAndre Kane scored 17 points and No. 16 Iowa State rallied after missing its first 13 shots to beat Baylor, 74-65, and win its first Big 12 tournament title since 2000.

Big 12 player of the year Melvin Ejim finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for the fourth-seeded Cyclones (26-7), who knocked off top-seeded Kansas in the semifinals before ending the Bears' tournament run.

Conference USA

James Woodard scored 27 points to lead Tulsa to a spot in the NCAA tournament with a 69-60 victory over Louisiana Tech in the final.

Woodard, who scored 18 points in the second half, made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to help Tulsa hold off the Bulldogs. The victory put the Hurricane in the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2003 season. Tulsa (21-12), which was the No. 2 seed, will carry an 11-game win streak into the tournament.

Top-seeded Louisiana Tech came up short, extending an NCAA tournament drought dating to 1991. The Bulldogs (27-8) were led by Kenneth Smith with 16 points and Kenyon McNeail with 15. Alex Hamilton finished with 12.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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