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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Georgia Dome (71,228) -- Atlanta, Georgia. Television: SEC Network, ESPN3.com. Home Record: LSU 13-3, UK 16-2. Away Record: LSU 3-8, UK 5-5. Neutral Record: LSU 3-1, UK 1-2. Conference Record: LSU 9-9, UK 12-6. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 94-35.
GAME NOTES: The SEC Tournament quarterfinals will continue at the Georgia Dome on Friday night, as the second-seeded Kentucky Wildcats take on the seventh- seeded LSU Tigers.
A spot in the semifinals against either Georgia or Ole Miss is on the line in this matchup.
The Tigers recorded their best win of the season on Jan. 28 when they upset then-11th-ranked Kentucky at home, 87-82, but the Wildcats had their revenge on Feb. 22 in Lexington, 77-76 in overtime. UK holds a comfortable 94-35 advantage in the all-time series.
LSU (19-12) came into the tournament having lost two of three, but after earning a bye into the second round it got back on the winning track with a 68-56 victory over 10th-seeded Alabama, securing a nine-point lead at halftime and never surrendering that advantage down the stretch. They shot 50 percent from the field on the evening (including 11-of-22 from 3-point range) while holding the Crimson Tide to just 36 percent shooting. Shavon Coleman led the way with 15 points on 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. Tim Quarterman scored 12 points in 12 minutes off the bench, Johnny O'Bryant III and Jarell Martin netted 11 and 10 points, respectively, and Jordan Mickey narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Tigers' offensive attack this season has been impressive, scoring 75.4 ppg, and they are led by a strong duo in the frontcourt of O'Bryant (15.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Mickey (12.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.2 bpg), with both shooting greater than 49 percent from the field. Andre Stringer, Anthony Hickey, Martin and Coleman all add to the balanced attack, with each scoring between 8.7 and 11.7 ppg.
Second-seeded Kentucky (22-9, 12-6) is the conference's most storied program, having won 27 tournament titles, although only two of those have come since 2005. Once considered one of the nation's elite teams, the Wildcats have shown plenty of flaws in recent weeks with losses in three of the last four games, including an 85-64 drudging at the hands of No. 1 Florida in the regular- season finale. The well-balanced Wildcats outshoot their opponents from the field, 45.2 percent to 40.1 percent, for a +9.2 scoring margin, and their rebounding margin is second-best in the nation (+9.8), although their percentages from 3-point range (.316) and the foul line (.684) have been lackluster. Each of the team's top four scorers are freshmen. Julius Randle has established himself as a premiere power forward with 15.4 ppg and 10.5 rpg, James Young pours in 14.4 ppg and Aaron (13.5 ppg) and Andrew Harrison (10.8 ppg, 3.5 apg) have tremendous chemistry in the backcourt. Sophomore Willie-Cauley Stein puts up 7.4 ppg and 6.3 rpg and has been a difference maker on defense with 2.8 bpg and 1.1 spg.
Kentucky is far from a sure bet at this point in the season, but its lengthy layoff has likely allowed it to hit the reset button and regroup. It should be a close matchup like the first two meetings between the teams, but figure for the Wildcats' superior talent to win out in the end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 76, LSU 73
03/14 10:31:08 ET
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