April 30, 2017

SEC Tournament: Cats roll past Arkansas for third straight conference tournament title

13 March 2017, 01:01 | Clarence Schmidt

Villanova Wildcats forward Kris Jenkins celebrates with guard Donte DiVincenzo

Villanova Wildcats forward Kris Jenkins celebrates with guard Donte DiVincenzo

Top-seeded Kentucky, playing in front of a mostly blue crowd of 19,953 that resembled a home game at Rupp Arena more than a conference tournament game inside Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, throttled No. 3 seed Arkansas 82-65 on Sunday to clinch its third consecutive SEC Tournament championship, its fifth under Calipari and its 30th overall. It marks the third-straight conference tournament title for the Wildcats. Monk hit both free throws to make it 11-9.

After recently struggling to start or sometimes finish games effectively, No. 8 Kentucky opened tournament play by taking control and maintaining it against one of its toughest foes. They were the No. 3 seed that year too.

The three players combined for 14 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and three steals.

"The fans have waited a long time for us to win another one, and I feel like they deserve it". "I'm just caught up in the game". Freshman guard Malik Monk added 17, and senior guard Dominique Hawkins scored 14. Give Kentucky credit. They made some big shots.

The other major result of the tournament was Vanderbilt topping Florida in overtime on Friday, which will likely earn the Commodores an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.

"What a tremendous effort", Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said.

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With a No. 44-ranked RPI, a No. 51-ranked strength of schedule, according to ESPN, Seton Hall (21-11, 10-8) got a more favorable draw than past year. "We needed to know that the next time this happens how we're going to sort it out better". "They don't like us", he said, "and we don't like them".

Will No. 8 Kentucky be challenged by a surging Arkansas team when the two meet in the SEC Tournament championship today at 1PM ET? They will play eighth-ranked Kentucky, a 79-74 victor over Alabama, for the second time in three years Sunday.

Arkansas simply smothered Vanderbilt, especially in the paint where the Razorbacks had a 46-16 scoring edge. Guard Daryl Macon led all Razorbacks with 18 points, converting seven of his 11 shots from the field. The time of the game and the network will be announced later in the week. And that's fine to an Arkansas team carrying just as much momentum as the Cats.

Despite running the table in the conference tournament with three straight victories, Kentucky coach John Calipari doesn't think it will have any bearing on his team's placement in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

It was evident Arkansas had a little extra juice right from the opening tip, when a quick outlet pass led to a Barford lay in just four seconds into the game. Senior Bola Olaniyan had a game-high 10 rebounds, his ninth double-digit rebounding game this year. "We've had an up-and-down year in a lot of ways and haven't been able to put together complete games, especially in back-to-back games".

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