Wildcats hit free throws to hold off Crimson Tide
De’Aaron Fox scored a careerhigh 28 points, including seven straight down the stretch, and Malik Monk added 20 to lift No. 8 Kentucky past Alabama, 79-74, in a Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal Saturday in Nashville.
The Wildcats shot 52 percent from the floor and 69 percent from the line after missing numerous chances that left openings for the pesky Crimson Tide to stay close. But Kentucky converted chances when needed, hitting 13 of 17 free throws in the final six minutes, with Fox making 5 of 7 in particular and 11 of 15 overall.
Bam Adebayo had 10 points and nine rebounds to send topseeded Kentucky (28-5) to Sunday’s championship game against Arkansas.
Dazon Ingram had 17 points for fifth-seeded Alabama (19-14), which outrebounded Kentucky 33-28 but couldn’t get the basket when needed to overcome the Wildcats.
ARKANSAS 76, VANDERBILT 62: Moses Kingsley had 12 points and 13 rebounds as the Razorbacks beat the Commodores in the SEC semifinals.
The Razorbacks (25-8) won their third straight to reach the championship for the seventh time. Jaylen Barford led Arkansas with 18 points. Dusty Hannahs added 16 and Daryl Macon 15.
Playing a third game in as many days took its toll on seventh-seeded Vanderbilt (19-15). The Commodores saw a threegame winning streak end after they reached the semifinals for the first time since 2013.
Arkansas, outscored only three times in the second half all season, wound up leading by 27.
SMU 70, CENTRAL FLORIDA 59: Sterling Brown scored 22 points, and the No. 12 Mustangs beat the Knights in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament in Hartford, Conn.
Semi Ojeleye added 17 points, and Shake Milton had 14 of his 16 points in the second half for the Mustangs (29-4). They are back in the championship game after missing last year’s tournament because of NCAA sanctions. The Mustangs, who won the title in 2015, will meet Cincinnati.
SMU has won 15 straight games and 25 of its past 26 after a 4-3 start to their season.
B.J. Taylor had 20 points and Nick Banyard 16 for the Knights (21-11). They had won six in a row.
CINCINNATI 81, CONNECTICUT 71: Gary Clark scored 24 points to lead the No. 15 Bearcats over the Huskies in the AAC semifinals.
Jacob Evans added 21 points and Troy Caupain had 19 for the Bearcats (29-4), who will be seeking their first AAC title.
Jalen Adams scored 20 points and Christian Vital had 19 for U-Conn., which finishes its season 16-17, its first losing campaign in 30 years.
VCU defeats Richmond
JeQuan Lewis scored 18 points, including a three-pointer with 25 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and VCU got an 87-77 win over Richmond in the Atlantic 10 tournament to advance to the championship game in Pittsburgh.
The No. 2 seed Rams will play fourth-seeded Rhode Island on Sunday.
In the overtime period, VCU (21-7) quickly took control, scoring the first six points during an 11-2 run for an 82-73 lead with 1:25 left. Mo Alie-Cox had five points in the breakaway run, and Samir Doughty had four.
Doughty finished with 17 points, Alie-Cox had 15, and Justin Tillman got 11 points to go with 14 rebounds for the Rams, who are playing for a conference title for the seventh straight year.
Richmond (20-12) got a careerhigh 26 points from De’Monte Buckingham.